One critic of Chinese poetry has written, suggestively: “Western readers are sometimes struck by what they do not find …”. One of the most familiar constituents of poetry, particularly of the lyric, that will not be found in much of Chinese nature poetry is an identifiable grammatical subject. It is not uncommon for a translator of Chinese poetry to ask “… who is its subject? I? You? She?” The requirements of the translation into Western languages suggest, of course, that a subject be supplied. Caught between syntactical correctness and the authority of the text, the translator is often forced to opt for fluency in the target language rather than fidelity to the source language. To be sure, this practice is of no great consequence in most instances. But, if we look at two excerpts, one from the Li Sao and the other from the T'ang shih san pai shou, and compare both text and translation, it becomes clear that there will be times when something other than mere linguistic convention is involved.

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