I came across a Wikipedia article on Hua Mulan (Yes, the one of the Disney cartoon character). I have heard of the story since I was a kid. So I decided to check out on the historical accuracy of the character.

Apparantly, I gathered the following information from wikipedia .
1. Mulan was never discovered to be a lady until she came back from battle.
2. The disneys adaptation of the story is very far away from the actual poem.

From the wikipedia, I also managed to pull out the translation of the ballad and I am placing them here
木兰诗
唧唧复唧唧,木兰当户织,不闻机杼声,惟闻女叹息。
问女何所思,问女何所忆,女亦无所思,女亦无所忆。
昨夜见军帖,可汗大点兵。军书十二卷,卷卷有爷名。
阿爷无大儿,木兰无长兄,愿为市鞍马,从此替爷征。
东市买骏马,西市买鞍貉,南市买辔头,北市买长鞭。
旦辞爷娘去,暮至黄河边。不闻爷娘唤女声,但闻黄河流水鸣溅溅。
但辞黄河去,暮宿黑山头。不闻爷娘唤女声,但闻燕山胡骑鸣啾啾。
万里赴戎机,关山度若飞。朔气传金析,寒光照铁衣。
将军百战死,壮士十年归。归来见天子,天子坐明堂。
策勋十二转,赏赐百千强。可汗问所欲,木兰不用尚书郎。
愿驰千里足,送儿还故乡。爷娘闻女来,出郭相扶将。
阿姊闻妹来,当户理红妆。小弟闻姊来,磨刀霍霍向猪羊。
开我东阁门,坐我西阁床。脱我战时袍,着我旧时裳。
当窗理云鬓,对镜贴花黄。出门看伙伴,伙伴皆惊惶。
同行十二年,不知木兰是女郎! 雄兔脚扑朔,雌兔眼迷离。
双兔傍地走,安能辨我是雄雌。

Rough translation from Chinese:
The insects chirping happily outside,
Mulan sat opposite the door weaving;
No sound of the shuttle was heard,
Only sighs of the girl.
When asked what she was pondering over,
When asked what she had called to mind,
Nothing special the girl was pondering over,
Nothing special had the girl called to mind.
Last night she saw the military announcement,
The Khan was conscripting,
There were twelve announcements of conscription,
And Father’s name was in every one of them.
Father had no grown son,
Nor Mulan an older brother;
She wanted to buy a saddle and horse,
And from now on fought in place of her Father.
In the eastern market she bought a fine steed,
In the western market a saddle and a pad,
In the southern market a bridle,
In the northern market a long whip.
At daybreak she bid farewell to her parents,
At sunset she bivouacked by the Yellow River;
What met her ears was no longer her parents’ call,
But the gurgles and splashes of the rushing waters.
At daybreak she left the Yellow River,
At sunset she arrived at the top of the Black Hill;
What met hers ears was no longer her parents’ call,
But barbarians’ horses neighing in the Yanshan Mountains.
On the expedition of thousands of miles to the war,
She dashed across mountains and passes as if in flight;
In the chilly northern air night watches clanged,
In the frosty moonlight armour and helmet glistened,
Generals laid down their lives in a hundred battles,
And valiant soldiers returned after ten years’ service.
When she returned to an audience with the Son of Heaven (usually refers to as Emperor),
The Son of Heaven sat in the Hall of Brightness.
A promotion of many ranks was granted for her merits,
With a reward than amounted to thousands of strings of cash.
The Khan asked Mulan what she desired to do.
‘I don’t need any high official position,
Please lend me a sturdy mount that is fleet of foot,
And send me back to my hometown.’
When her parents heard their daughter was coming,
They walked out of the town, each helping the other;
When the elder sister heard the younger sister was coming,
She decked herself out in her best by the door;
When her younger brother heard his sister was coming,
He whetted a knife and aimed it at a pig and a sheep.
Opened the door of my east chamber,
And then sat down on the bed in my west chamber;
Taking of the armour worn in wartime,
Attired myself in apparel of former times;
By the window I combed and coiffed my cloudy hair,
Before the mirror I adorned my forehead with a yellow pattern.
When Mulan came out to meet her battle companions,
They were all astounded and thrown into bewilderment.
Together they had been in the army for a dozen years or so,
Yet none had known that Mulan was actually a girl.
The male rabbit kicks its fluffly feet as it scampers,
The eyes of female rabbit are blurred by fluffy tufts of hair,
But when they run side by side in the field,
You can hardly tell the doe from the buck!

I also manage to find a short recital of the ballad in youtube, but the recital is only part of the ballad. Until the part where she asked for a mount to return to her home.  Meanwhile enjoy 🙂

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