After Visiting Zhuge Liang's Shrine

Through the ages, in collections of literati works
Anyone who made a trip to Chengdu
Would leave a poem about Zhuge Liang's shrine.
The 2017 "Chengdu International Poetry Week"
Arranged a salon-style gathering for us there;
Indeed the feel of the place is quiet and secluded.
I recall from Du Fu's poem that it had towering cypresses,
But I was listening to the pretty guide and forgot to look.
The tour guide summed up Zhuge Liang's era:
In a trifecta of kingdoms, many upstart heroes contended.
She worshipfully directed our gaze to Liu Bei's statue:
Lordly and hugely tolerant, bent on restoring the Han.
A listener needled her: Was he a legitimate successor?
She stressed Zhuge's loyalty, a wizard who crowned his age,
Moved by Liu's selflessness, he left his mountain idyll.
A heckler quipped: in chaotic times people rally around figureheads.

At any rate, seeing a historical figure treated so devoutly
Helped to establish a solemn atmosphere for our salon,
Because a man straddled the line between human and divine,
But his apotheosis happened in the past, and now this place
Has been restored as a venue for humanistic gatherings.
From human to divine to human, it was all an aesthetic process.
This kind of conversion gives a taste of the literati ethos,
Which is why joining in this salon felt like coming home.

by Denis Mair

Comments (4)

A worthwhile trip. You mentioned the heroic figures during the ancient period of the Three Kingdoms that reminded us of the very classical history and story. I liked this part: : “From human to divine to human/it was all an aesthetic process”. From a secular point of view, the heroes were endowed with divine powers. But they were human after all who needed to think about the right and wrong. Your Chinese writing is really good. Much enjoyed.
She stressed Zhuge's loyalty - sounds familiar, and it's still a sad reality. Nice to know you enjoyed staring at the pretty guide ;)
Humanism restored! A very fine poem, Denis. I must confess I once ended up with a German Speaking guide during a tour of a Mosel castle. My German is somewhat ropey but she was quite stunning, by way of compensation. So I was very amused by your reference to the pretty guide!
A man straddles the line between human and divine. This poem is amazing and very brilliantly penned.10