This paper explores a specific mode of illustrations to accompany the most popular dramatic publication in late Ming, The Story of the Western Wing. The visual interpretations of the play will be discussed side by side with the commentaries attributed to contemporary eminent literary figures, in order to examine the common change in reading mentality. Analysis of the image–text relationship for each of the pictures in those editions under discussion reveals that they all relate to the script with the caption taken from the text. Unlike the previous illustrated editions in a narrative mode, the pictures represent the fragmented poetic sentences instead of the narrative text of the play. The caption, a fragmented segment of the text, therefore becomes the key element that relates the image to the text. For the illustrator, it was probably more important to find a key line and a matching scene from the visual repertoire than it was to expound the essence of the script. The emerging mode of “poetic pictures” not only emphasized the poetic quality of the text, but also incorporated visual elements learned from traditional brush painting. The sophisticated integration of poetry and painting into the comparatively popular form of prints attested to the publishers' pursuit of artistic prestige, and the shift in illustrations for narratives during this period.