The River-Captain's Wife: A Letter


I with my hair in its first fringe
Romped outside breaking flower-heads.
You galloped by on bamboo horses.
We juggled green plums round the well.
Living in Chang-kan village,
Two small people without guile.

At fourteen I married you sir,
So bashful I could only hide,
My frowning face turned to the wall.
Called after - never looking back.

Fifteen before I learnt to smile.
Yearned to be one with you forever.
You to be the Ever-Faithful.
I to not sit lonely, waiting.

At sixteen you sir went away,
Through White King's Gorge, by Yen Rock's rapids,
When the Yangtze's at its highest,
Where the gibbons cried above you.

Here by the door your last footprints,
Slowly growing green mosses,
So deep I cannot sweep them,
Leaves so thick from winds of autumn.

September's yellow butterflies
Twine together in our west garden.
What I feel -- it hurts the heart.
Sadness makes my beauty vanish.

When you come down from far places,
Please will you write me a letter?
As far as the farthest reaches,
I'll come out to welcome you.


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