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Pound, Ezra. "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter".


A woman describes the development of her relationship to her husband.

The two met already as little children. They married when she was fourteen. At first she was bashful, never laughed, and never looked back when called to. At fifteen she stopped frowning: "I desired my dust to be mingled with yours". When she was sixteen, her husband departed for business and now has been gone for five months. She is melancholic, says she grows older, and the paired butterflies she sees hurt her. She misses her husband.

He should let her know whether he is coming through the narrows of the river, so that she could come out to meet him.


- inspired by a Japanese haiku

- a love letter from a young Chinese woman to her husband

- intimate, homely, but impressive


  • Author

    Pound, Ezra. (1885 - 1972).
  • Full Title

    "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter".
  • First Published

  • Form


Works Cited

Pound, Ezra. "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter". (1915). In: The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym et al. NY: Norton, 1989.


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