The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter Essay

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Jonathan N. Barron

Jonathan N. Barron is associate professor of English at the University ofSouthern Mississippi. He has written numerous articles and edited a number of books of essays on poetry, and is editor of The Robert Frost Review. In the following essay, Barron shows why Pound's poem, using free-verse poetic technique, succeeds as a masterpiece of translation.

It is said that Pound created the Chinese poem in English. The attributes of Asian poetry, particularly of Chinese poetry, that are now familiar to students of poetry—clean, spare, description; quiet tones; precise use of proper nouns and simple active verbs—are familiar in large part because of Pound. Despite this achievement, Pound's contemporary, the great American poet Robert Frost, dismissed the very idea of poetic translation as impossible: "Poetry," he said, "is what gets lost in translation." According to Frost, poetry is so specific to its host language...

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This section contains 3,128 words
(approx. 8 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.