Study Guide

The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter Calling Card

By Ezra Pound

Calling Card

Chinese "Translations"

As we mentioned in the "In a Nutshell" section, Ezra Pound used the notes of his friend's dead husband as the foundation for a whole collection of poems. These notes were based on the studies of Chinese and other translations that some Japanese scholars did. So Pound was getting a lot of his "Chinese" through different filters. Of course, translation isn't an exact science, so we'll cut Pound some slack. Also, Pound never screamed from the rooftops that these were authentic and accurate translations of an eighth-century poet named Li Po. Today, now that we're more enlightened to various cultural identities, we can recognize it wasn't totally Pound's work, but it wasn't plagiarism either. Let's just hope that poems like "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter" send some of you future great scholars into your own explorations and appreciations of Chinese poetry.