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Everything is governed by time in the river merchants wife

Poem Summary Lines 1-6 This opening stanza of 6 lines is organized around a central image of the river-merchant and his wife as a child, confirmed by the first component of the central image: The mark of an adult woman in the ancient Chinese culture was elaborate arrangements of uncut long hair.

Each line contributes to a clearer understanding of the central image of the children. In ancient cultures, and in some cultures today, early marriages are customary, and it is often also the custom for the wife to refer to her husband by a respectful title.

Lines 11-14 The central image of this stanza is the growth of love between the young husband and wife. If it is, it means that the wife as a widow does not want to do this. In any case, it is clear that there is nothing she wishes for after the death of her husband, so deep is her love for him now. Lines 15-18 An image of separation is developed in these lines as the husband takes on his role as a river-merchant and travels the waters, conducting his work in the world on a distant island. And in line 18 the effect of this long absence is brought to full comprehension by the use of the natural image of the sounds of the monkeys that reflect back to her the sound of her own sorrow.

Line 19 indicates that he was as averse to this separation as she was. For her it is the scene of the beginning of his absence. And evidently she knows this scene well: They are now too deep to clear away. This image becomes more defined with her observation of the butterflies in the garden, for they are Media Adaptations Unapix released a 1995 biography titled Ezra Pound.

Please let me know when and by what route you are returning, so that I may come to meet you. This, however, conveys more than it would at first appear. Her village is a suburb of Nanking and she is willing to walk to a beach several hundred miles everything is governed by time in the river merchants wife from there to meet her husband, so deeply does she yearn to close the distance between them.

The poem honors constancy and faithfulness as the wife reflects on the development of their life together and expresses her growing sorrow as she anxiously awaits his return. One important theme in the poem reveals the process through which the love between the man and woman develops.

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In the opening lines of the poem, the wife recalls her childhood when her husband was simply a playmate, a companion. The first line gives a vivid picture of the wife as a child. This creates both a clear physical portrait, as well as indicating the passivity of childhood with its lack of involvement in things other than play. The poem then moves on to describe the carefree merriment of the speaker and her future husband.

Her statement that she never laughed contrasts jarringly with her earlier picture of the two companions at ease in their world. She wishes it to continue throughout eternity. The two are now torn apart, and the wife is left alone to mourn his absence. The growth and development of this relationship allows the reader a greater understanding of her loss and pain.

The reader understands her regret that her newfound passion was too brief. She also hints about her fears for his safe return: Although she never mentions the possible dangers of traveling such a river, the reader realizes that rapids or whirlpools could explain why he has been gone so long. The letter makes clear how painful the wait has become for her. The two short sentences in line 25 make a strong impression.

She continues by noting that she has grown so much older, an aging that is emotional rather than physical. However, she remains brave in her wait, ending the letter with the message that she will come to meet him, if he will only send word. She holds fast to the thought of his return, despite the hints of trouble that nature has provided: Indeed, the parallel between the situation of the wife in the poem and women throughout Europe writing letters of love and longing to soldiers called away to war is striking.

While this poem has no military theme, it involves the same sense of loss, of fear, of waiting: Interestingly enough, this parallel reinforces the universality of the theme in the poem. That a poem composed in the voice of a Chinese woman in the eighth century provides such an accurate emotional description of a wife or lover waiting for news from the World War I front adds to its enormous poignancy. One was the use of nature imagery to explain or indicate human emotion or set mood.

Many people were highly critical everything is governed by time in the river merchants wife this award since he had been accused of treason during World War II by the U. Evaluate both sides of the controversy and explain which position you find most convincing. The letter is a common device used in both literature and song.

The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter

Find some other examples of letters, and discuss whether the author has used the letter form effectively. Both Pound and Li-Po found themselves in conflict with governmental authorities. While the five months the husband has been gone may not seem a terrible burden to the reader initially, Pound uses nature to cue the reader to mood. While these delicate creatures remain together, they torment her with the reminder that her own love is gone.

The final stanza of 10 lines and a dropped half-line begins with the presentation of a similar central image that collects an enhancing detail in each line until line 25 shifts into direct emotional statement.

  • The note to the poem says the poet was Rihaku but that is just the Japanese name for Li Po;
  • An email, like a letter, remains one-sided unless answered;
  • These two readings demand special attention because they can help a scholar to recognize that full understanding of the complexity of a culture requires more than a shared cultural identity with the original author;
  • Kublai Khan is familiar to westerners because of the writings of Marco Polo who visited the imperial court in 1275.

The last four lines mix this direct letter-writing style with the final image closing the physical and emotional distance between the river-merchant and his wife. In this poem he expertly combines these to create a sense of the conversational naturalness of letter-writing with the focused, direct, and simple presentation of image inspired by the Chinese ideograms in which the poem was originally written. While each of the first four stanzas concentrates on one image, the individual lines themselves are as long as Pound needs them to be to focus each component of the central image of the stanza in the mind of the reader.

This technique is termed end-stopped lines, meaning that a complete idea is expressed in a line, with no spillover into the next line. However, the use of capital letters at the beginnings of each line is a signal that it is the lines of poetry, rather than the sentence constructions, that are the basic units of meaning.

Historical Context Chinese history presents a rich and complex tapestry. Archaeologists believe that the first organized society, the Shang dynasty, existed from approximately 1500 to 1100 B.

The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter

Excavations reveal an agrarian yet artistic culture. From these beginnings, Chinese civilization developed a sophisticated governmental system, as well as a rich philosophical and artistic tradition.

  • Perhaps herein lies the reason for Pound to use my lord when referring to the husband;
  • There is a sense of losing touch;
  • Many historians call this era the golden age of China, which was, at the time, the wealthiest and the most extensive empire in the world.

Although similar developments were occurring in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Seathere was only sporadic contact between the two cultures, a communication based on trade. While the Silk Road carried caravans between China and the Roman Empirealmost all interactions were limited to commercial exchanges, controlled by the traders who dominated the route. Because of the economic importance of this trade, the Han dynasty, which ruled China from approximately 200 B.

However, they were not interested in cultural exchanges with outsiders. The Han ruled using a tribute system. Since they believed non-Chinese were barbarians, diplomatic relations and trading rights were extended only to those peoples who would recognize the superiority of the Chinese and prove it with the payment of a tribute.

This attitude toward the rest of the world continued throughout most of Chinese history.

The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter

Although visitors came to China to learn from the accomplishments of the various dynasties, they remained outsiders, not assimilated into the society. This was true during the Tang dynasty, which assumed control in the seventh century. Many historians call this era the golden age of China, which was, at the time, the wealthiest and the most extensive empire in the world.

Literature, painting, sculpture, as well as other arts flourished. Scholarship was encouraged and two encyclopedias were produced during that period. The Chinese also made several technological advances, and government was directed by a code of laws based on Confucian principles.

This Chinese culture provides a sharp contrast to the western world at this time.

Contemporary Faces of the River Merchant’s Wife

In the eighth century, when Chinese poet Li Po wrote, Europe was struggling to emerge from the chaos caused by the fall of the Roman Empire. Muslim Arabs had invaded Spain; Slavic invaders attacked from the East. Although Charlemagne attempted to recreate a new Holy Roman Empirethe strong nation states of Europe would not emerge for a few more centuries.

  1. For Eliot and Kern, the cultural significance of Cathay is intracultural rather than intercultural.
  2. Excavations reveal an agrarian yet artistic culture. At fifteen, I began to perk up.
  3. Each side felt themselves unfairly treated; each felt themselves a superior culture. On the other hand, scholars in China or of Chinese origin have divided opinions about this poem — some contend that it is an outstanding representation of Chinese culture and society and others believe that it is a misleading rendition which leads itself to misinterpretations of the Chinese original and reinforces stereotypical beliefs.
  4. Although Charlemagne attempted to recreate a new Holy Roman Empire , the strong nation states of Europe would not emerge for a few more centuries. We wished to stay together like dust and ash.
  5. In 1924, he moved to Italy; during this period of voluntary exile, Pound became involved in Fascist politics, and did not return to the United States until 1945, when he was arrested on charges of treason for broadcasting Fascist propaganda by radio to the United States during World War II.

Ironically, the old trade routes between East and West continued unabated, since the turmoil never diminished the demand for spices from the Orient. By the twelfth century, however, the power balance was reversed. Warring factions weakened China, and this left the nation vulnerable to the onslaught of the Mongol forces led by the great warrior, Genghis Khanwho extended his empire across Asia. Einstein announces his general theory of relativity.

Einstein again makes scientific headlines when astronomers announce signs that could prove the accuracy of the theory of relativity.

The Germans use chlorine gas at the Second Battle of Ypres—the first time poison gas is employed in conflict. The program continues until 1971. Twelve people are killed in a terrorist attack using Sarin gas on a Japanese subway. The Defense Department begins a controversial program to vaccinate all military personnel against anthrax.

Kublai Khan is familiar to westerners because of the writings of Marco Polo who visited the imperial court in 1275. When his accounts of the grandeur, even superiority, of the Asian world first reached Europe, these tales were considered to be more fantasy than reality. However, since there had been commercial contact between East and West for centuries, eventually similar reports reinforced the claims of Marco Polo. The riches of the Orient soon became an irresistible lure to western explorers and adventurers.

Both China and the nations that emerged in Europe during the late medieval and Renaissance periods were proud, even arrogant. The Chinese dynasties, on their part, felt no need to pursue anything beyond their own boundaries. They were self-sufficient, possessors of a rich and elaborate culture.

  • In so doing, he is able to invent his own formal rules and thus create a Chinese-sounding rhythm, music, and beauty;
  • When monkeys cried against the sky.

Foreigners were still viewed as barbarians. In the western world, on the other hand, the development of strong nation states fueled the desire for exploration and conquest.

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Explorers believed that the new worlds that were now discovered were rightly theirs, to claim and plunder. Seagoing journeys revived interest in the East. The Portuguese, who were the first to reach China, in 1514, planned to gain fortunes by seizing control of the rich spice trade, which was dominated by Arab traders.

The Chinese government attempted to limit all foreign influence as much as possible, refusing to permit colonies on the mainland.

Only mercantile, not diplomatic, relations existed between China and Europe. Eventually, as the West sought to force China to allow more trade, conflict became inevitable.

Each side felt themselves unfairly treated; each felt themselves a superior culture.