The River Merchant’s Wife II

‘The River Merchant’s Wife II : And I will come out to meet you’

This  painting was inspired by a poem I learned at school when I was about 11 years old. It has stayed with me ever since. I was captivated by this beautiful tale of love and romance simply told by a young woman who is waiting for the return of her beloved husband.

The idea that a poet writing in eighth century China can portray thoughts and feelings comparable to twenty-first century experience shouldn’t surprise me…but it does!

This is the second painting in the series which depicts the moment when she sees that his ship is in sight and soon her beloved husband will be home.

The River Merchant’s Wife ll
Mary Wallace © 2017

Mixed Media – Beeswax, pigments, gold, broken porcelain
Dimensions 38 x 38cm



The River-Merchant’s Wife:
A Letter

By Ezra Pound

After Li Po

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead

I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.

You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,

You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.

And we went on living in the village of Chōkan:

Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you.

I never laughed, being bashful.

Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.

Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,

I desired my dust to be mingled with yours

Forever and forever, and forever.

Why should I climb the look out?

At sixteen you departed

You went into far Ku-tō-en, by the river of swirling eddies,

And you have been gone five months.

The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.

By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,

Too deep to clear them away!

The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.

The paired butterflies are already yellow with August

Over the grass in the West garden;

They hurt me.

I grow older.

If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,

Please let me know beforehand,

And I will come out to meet you

As far as Chō-fū-Sa.

Source –

Translated by Ezra Pound (1885 – 1972) from Li Po, the Chinese poet (701-62).

This entry was published on November 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm. It’s filed under art, beauty, blue, boat, childhood, China, Chinese poetry, combined materials, contemporary, discovery, figurative, inspiration, Ireland, Irish, Irish artist, Japan, kintsugi, kintsugi, wabi-sabi, beauty, imperfection,, literature, memories, mixed media, musings, nature, painting, poetry, porcelain, sailing, sea, senses, Uncategorized, wabi-sabi, water, Wexford and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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