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Reply to Li Shuyi

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 forever.

蝶 恋 花
答 李 淑 一
一九五七年五月十一日

我失骄杨君失柳,
杨柳轻扬直上重霄九。
问讯吴刚何所有,
吴刚捧出桂花酒。

寂寞嫦娥舒广袖,
万里长空且为忠魂舞。
忽报人间曾伏虎,
泪飞顿作倾盆雨。

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.

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