The crunch of dead leaves is a sound all to familiar to someone that grew up in Illinois. To someone who grew up outside of Illinois it might just bring back memories of trick-or-treating, football season, or various pumpkin spice flavored…everything. However living in Illinois it is just a painful reminder for what is about to happen.
The life and joy in people, along with nature is slowly dying. People no longer enjoy walking outdoors, there are no children playing in the afternoon until the sun falls below the horizon. This is exactly what Ezra Pound was trying to portray in “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” the wife is trying to tell her husband about her feelings on their dying relationship. She is doing this by relating them to the seasons. In the beginning of the poem their relationship is like summer. She talks about how they had fun, “ … pulling flowers….playing horse….playing with blue plums…”(Pound). They were very care free and enjoyed the summer much as a child would.
Later in the poem you can see that their love has begun to die. The wife says, “…The leaves fall early this autumn…”(Pound). Just like in Illinois fall means that the weather will only get worse, it only goes down hill from there. With the husband being on a business trip for the last 5 months. The couple has started a new season of their marriage. The relationship can only get better when the husband comes home. Much like Illinois welcome spring with open arms, she wants to know what way he will be coming home so that she too can welcome him with open arms.
This is a similar style to some of Robert Frost works. Using nature to represent the characters thoughts and feelings. Often dealing with the narrator feeling isolated, this poem also makes me think of Susan Glaspell’s Trifles. The main character Mrs. Wright is thought to have grown so lonely that she changed into a different person and became depressed. I think this sounds much like the river merchants wife. She used to pick flowers and have fun outside, but now she lets the moss over grow and becomes depressed.
- Pound, Ezra. “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter.” org. Web. <http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/river-merchants-wife-letter>.
- Perkins, George B., and Barbara Perkins. The American Tradition in Literature. 12th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994. Print.