|This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.|
Yu Xuanji (simplified Chinese: 鱼玄机; traditional Chinese: 魚玄機; pinyin: Yú Xuánjī; Wade-Giles: Yu Hsuan-chi, approximate dates 844–869, or possibly to 871), courtesy names Youwei (幼微) and Huilan (蕙兰), was a Chinese poet born in Chang'an during the Tang Dynasty. She is distinctive for being the first Chinese poet to break the conventional passive voice of women in poetry and lyrics. She is the first Chinese feminist poet.
Yu was married as a concubine to Li Yi (李亿) at 16, and after separating three years later she became a courtesan and a Daoist nun. She was a fellow of Wen Tingyun, to whom she addressed a number of poems. She died early, at the age of 26 to 28. Apart from names and dates in her poems, the tabloid-style Little Tablet from the Three Rivers, (三水小牘), gives the only facts about her life, although these are salacious in detail: that she had an affair with Wen Tingyun, lived a scandalously promiscuous life, and was executed for beating her maid to death.
In her lifetime, her poems were published as a collection called Fragments of a Northern Dreamland, which has been lost. The forty-nine surviving poems were collected in the Song Dynasty mainly for their freak value in an anthology that also included poems from ghosts and foreigners.
- Fu, Shousun, "Yu Xuanji". Encyclopedia of China (Chinese Literature Edition), 1st ed.
- Young, David and Jiann I. Lin. The Clouds Float North: The Complete Poems of Yu Xuanji (Wesleyan University Press: Hanover and London, 1998)
- ↑ Young, publication information from title page and copyright notice
- The Clouds Float North David Young's Translation of her poems (link no longer works, but click for more information)
- Passing Under Heaven Novel by Justin Hill, inspired by her life
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of 2010-01-29 of the equivalent article on the Chinese Wikipedia.