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The Wuhouci, Memorial Temple to Zhuge Liang in Chengdu, Sichuan

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杜甫















使滿

Prime Minister of Shu
        Du Fu 712-770

Where is Zhuge Liang's ancestral temple?
Outside Brocade City  
        deep in a cypress grove.
Polished stone steps
        green grass
                spring colors,
Hidden in foliage 
        orioles sing.
Three times 
        he was asked for a plan,
Two times 
        he served Lu Bei.
But died 
        before his army triumphed,
Making later heros 
        weep on their aprons.
 
Shǔ Xiāng
Dù Fǔ 712-770

Chéngxiāng cítāng héchù xún,
Jǐn gōngchéng wài xiāng sēnsēn.
Yìng jiē bìcǎo zì chūnsè,
Gé yè huánglí kōng hǎo yīn.
Sān gùpínfán tiān xià jì,
Liǎng cháo kāi jì lǎo chén xīn.
Chūshí wèi jié shēn xiān sǐ,
Chāng shǐ yīngxióng lèi mǎn jīn.
 
Translator: Dongbo 東波

Notes:
Du Fu's laments get a bit heavy at times, and I can't resist a playful turn of phrase poking fun at him. But one must consider the time when he lived and wrote. This poem was written in Chengdu (Brocade City) in Sichuan where Du Fu had escaped the turmoil following the An Lushan rebellion. The Tang capital Changan had been sacked and the dynasty was reeling. Du Fu's entire world was collapsing around him.

It would be the same if Bin Laden's attack on America had suceeded beyond his wildest dreams, former president Bush had abdicated and was living in retirement in a fundamentalist Christian enclave in Lebanon. Dick Cheney had taken over as puppet figurehead under Bin Laden, and you were living in the un-reconstructed swamps of Louisiana after hurricane Katrina. How would you feel?

I almost forgot. This poem was written at the 武侯祠 Wǔhóucí, Marquis of Wu Memorial Temple, a temple in honor of Zhuge Liang 181-234 of Three Kingdom's fame, also known as 武鄉侯 Wǔ Xiānghóu, Marquis of Wu. It is also a shrine to Lu Bei 魯北, Zhuge Liang's leader and emperor of the Wu kingdom. If you have time read China's earliest novel, The Three Kingdoms, which covers in great detail the chaos following the breakup of the Han Dyansty in 219.

 
 
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