The River-Merchant's Wife: Another Letter

Only yesterday my whole world
was bamboo stilts and plums
and you carrying my slippers
out into the garden.
                          I was
fourteen when I married you.
Twelve months later you departed,
turning to look back
as you went out the gate.
Now I spend the evenings
walking along the river bank,
watching the color of the wind.

In May, when I face the river,
the wind blows against my left cheek,
and I think of you
sailing down to Pa Ling.
In August the west wind
lifts the hair from my face
and my heart goes out to you
starting out from Yangtzu.
When will you be in Hsiang Tan?

Always I dream of waves and wind.
Last night a big storm
tore out trees by the river,
turned the whole world black.
I woke up shivering and afraid.
Where were you then?

My Lord, if I could, I would ride
the clouds past Orchid Beach
to find you...
                    In the reeds now
the Mandarin ducks are happy.
When I turn away I see
on the screen beside our room,
two purple kingfishers
embroidered on gold.

And I am fifteen,
a river merchant's wife,
afraid of waves,
afraid of wind.


  1. I am an admirer of Ezra Pound's interpretation (rather than translation) of Li Po's poem "The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter". "Another Letter" is my version of a companion piece.

  2. Hey, I enjoy your poetry. When you get a chance I would appreciate if you left me some feedback on There are numerous ways from you to get to my earlier page at:

  3. "...Always I dream of waves and wind..."

    I loved it to read your poem.

  4. Short link -

    I've written a companion piece, "The River-Merchant's Wife: An Answer", which can be found at

  5. Each color, each image reinforces the yearning and the longing; the story of growing up married and often ignored. Tough times made tough people but the essences of tenderness, beauty and hope are preserved in poetry. None better than yours, Sam. None better. So pleased you linked today. You are a rare jewel and each poem a newly discovered polished gem. Thank you.

  6. Stunningly beautiful, Sam — as always.

  7. very strong poem sam, woven tightly into japanese culture, a culture so foreign to us..felt her heart..

  8. I certainly saw Japanese brush strokes throughout this painting with words...A delicate composition.

  9. sad, married young, life is hard.

    enjoyed your way of deliver your story.

  10. nice...great verse the little touches that set this piece is placed without comtemplation of how it affects the whole which in and of itself evokes the culture...


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