Reply to Li Shuyi
is a poem
written in 1957
by Mao Zedong
to a female friend, Li Shuyi
. In the translation, "poplar" actually means his first wife: Yang Kaihui
, and "Willow" actually means Li's late husband: Liu Zhixun
. Both Yang and Liu were Communists
killed by the Kuomintang
, Yang Kaihui in 1930 and Liu Zhixun in 1932. In the poem Wu Gang
is a man who, according to Chinese legend, lives on the moon
, and was forced by the gods to fell a laurel tree
蝶 恋 花
答 李 淑 一
I lost my proud Poplar and you your Willow,
Poplar and Willow soar to the Ninth Heaven.
Wu Gang, asked what he can give,
Serves them a laurel wine.
The lonely moon goddess spreads her ample sleeves
To dance for these loyal souls in infinite space.
Earth suddenly reports the tiger subdued,
Tears of joy pour forth falling as mighty rain.