The River-Merchant's Wife

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Dr. Seuss once said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Often times, people take what they have for granted; however, it is not until after something is gone that one realizes and appreciates its true value. In “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” by Ezra Pound, the speaker of the poem is reminiscing about the relationship she had with her husband before he departed from her. Throughout the poem, the theme of reminiscence is shown as the speaker looks back on the development of her relationship with her husband. In the first stanza of the poem, the speaker recalls the time when she first met her husband. Upon their first encounter, “(She) played about the front gate, pulling flowers. / (He) came…show more content…
Furthermore, the speaker tells us “At fourteen (she) married” (7), and “(She) never laughed, being bashful” (8). During the first year of her marriage, the speaker acted very timid and distant from her husband. As the speaker looks back on this early time in her marriage, she may recall her actions being this way because of her young age. This use of imagery to show how the wife is distant from the husband is intense and adequately shows how the speaker feels toward her husband at this point (Sutton). Nevertheless, in the second year of her marriage “(she) stopped scowling. / (she) desired (her) dust to be mingled with (his)” (11-12). The speaker now “desires (her) dust to be mingled with (her husband’s)” (12), therefore, signifying her sexual desires toward him. This is proof that the speaker is becoming more intimate with her husband. Consequently, she wants to be with him “Forever and forever, and forever” (13). Line thirteen contains repetition of the word forever to connect the poem to the true intention of marriage. In the marriage ceremony, the couple traditionally recites “until death do us part.” Even though at first the speaker is bashful, she eventually opens up completely to her…show more content…
For example, when her husband departed, he “dragged (his) feet” (19). Line nineteen is an example of the use of imagery in the poem. The use of imagery in line nineteen leads the reader to visualize a man who has grown close to his wife and does not want to leave her. While her husband is gone, “the moss is grown” (20), “the leaves fall early” (22), and “the paired butterflies are already yellow” (23). The moss, the leaves, and the butterflies are all examples of symbolism in the poem. The growth of the mosses and the falling of the leaves are both a symbol of the time she has been apart from her husband, and the butterflies symbolize the relationship she had with her husband when he was home with her. Finally, at the end of the letter the speaker says “If (he) (is) coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang, / Please let (her) know beforehand, / And (she) will come out to meet (him)” (27-29). These lines create a sense of longing that the speaker feels. She is longing to be with her husband again, and she is willing to travel any distance to fulfill the desire of being with her husband. Rita Dove, writer for the Washington Post, also believed that the speaker was “waiting and longing” (ProQuest). Ultimately, as the speaker goes back to the day her husband left, one can see how she truly loves him and longs to be reunited with him

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