Li Yi Poem: A Southern Song – 李益《江南曲》







A Southern Song

Li Yi

Since I became a merchant’s wife,

I’ve in his absence passed my life.

A sailor comes home with the tide,

I should have been a sailor’s bride.

This song reveals the regret of a merchant’s wife whose husband has not kept his promise to come home in due time as a sailor who would come back with the tide.


Jiangnan Song” is a poem written by Li Yi in the Tang Dynasty. The poem describes the grievances of a woman whose husband is always away on business. The first two lines describe a sad and lamentable fact in plain and simple language, while the last two lines suddenly rise from the flat ground and express the young woman’s grievances in a twisted and subtle way with the brush of the empty space. The poem shows from an unusual angle the inner activities of the young woman in the bedroom, from hope to grievance, from grievance to regret, profoundly demonstrating her bitterness and resentment.

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