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王實味 野百合花 前記 translation: Preface to ‘Wild Lilies’, by Wang Shiwei

This is a translation of the preface to the text 野百合花 (‘Wild Lillies’), written by the Chinese writer 王實味 (‘Wang Shiwei’) in 1942 in Yan’an.

Preface ·


Wild Lillies



When walking alone by the riverside, the old cotton shoes on the feet of a comrade made me think of Comrade Li Fen who also wore that kind of cotton shoe –

– the first friend that I loved and respected the most in my whole life.


When I think of her, my heart usually jumps.

Usually I can sense that my blood flows more forcefully.


李芬同志是北大1926年級文預科學生,同年入黨,1928年春犧牲於她底故鄉—— 湖南寶慶。
Comrade Li Fen was in the 1926 preparatory literature class at Beijing University, and in the same year joined the party, and in 1928 sacrificed herself in her home county – Baoqing in Hunan.

Her death wasn’t due to capture, but due to her own uncle sending her to the local garrison.

This shows how cruel the representatives of old China were.

同時,在赴死之前,她曾把所有的三套襯衣褲都穿在身上,用針線上下密密縫在一起,因為當時寶慶青年女共產黨員被捕槍決後, 常由軍隊縱使流氓去姦屍!
At that time, before she died, she put on all of her three sets of shirts and trousers, and used needle and thread to sew the two parts closely together, because at that time, after female Communist Party members in Baoqing had been captured and shot, the thugs would often defile the bodies!

This also shows how the old China was a bloody, repulsive, filthy and dark society!

From when I heard about her death, my veins have burnt more fiercely than ever with love and poisonous hate.

Whenever I think of her, the image of that pure and holy female martyr floats before my eyes, wearing her three sets of tightly sewed shirts and trousers, dying because her own uncle calmly sent her to it!

Every time I think of her, my heart jumps, and my blood flows more forcefully!

(在這歌轉玉堂春,舞回金蓮步的昇平氣象中,提到這樣的故事,似乎不太和諧,但當前的現實——請閉上眼睛想一想罷,每一分鐘都有我們親愛的同志在血泊中倒下——似乎與這氣象也不太和諧! )
(In this hall of song [?], in an atmosphere of dancing the Golden Lotus [?], mentioning this story seems like a little discordant, but in the present reality… Please close your eyes and just think, every minute our beloved comrades are falling down in pools of blood – like this atmosphere, it is also quite discordant!)


For the benefit of the people, we certainly do not want to see through the old cover of hateful class distinctions again.

We are truly working for the common good without selfish interest.

We even use all of our strength to drag representatives of the old China on to a brighter path.

However, in the process of dragging them, the filth of the old China has also polluted us, spreading bacteria and contagious diseases.


I have incessantly, ten or twenty times, taken strength, living strength and fighting strength, from the image of Comrade Li Fen.

When I happened to think of her this time, it made me determined to write some essays.

‘Wild Lilies’ is their overall title.

This has two meanings: One, this kind of flower is the most beautiful wild flower in the fields in the Yan’an hills, thus conveying a pure and holy image.

The second: it is said said this flower has scaly stems like the common lily, and although they are quite bitter to taste, and are not sweetly palatable like common lilies, they do however have greater medicinal value – I don not know the truth of this.


Further reading