After Visiting Zhuge Liang's Shrine
Through the ages, in collections of literati works
by Denis Mair
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.