Fair Lady Yü


Li Yu

As one can see, this translation is in no way faithful to the form of the original. The original was created under a set pattern (ci pai, 詞牌) that predetermined the number of characters in every line as well as their tones and rhyme scheme. By compromising on word-for-word fidelity, rhyme, and original imagery, among other things, however, this expansion into a narrative prose has the advantage of integrating background information with the scene and emotion of the poem by using Li’s dream, which is purely imagined. I borrowed ideas from the original in recreating this scene. For example, flowers, which indicate the advent of spring, are engraved on the windows. Another important feature is that Li does not speak a word in this entire narrative, nor does he show any emotion. This reservedness and the guard’s disrespect towards Li imply his miserable current situation, as he lives under the mercy of the new ruler, and help to tangibly illustrate the sorrow beyond words. Li’s personal reflections (dead elder brother, love for Buddhism, execution of loyal officials, passion for music and dance) are historically true.