Revised on May 02 2005

The Premier of Shu 蜀相
by Du Fu


Where is the temple of the Premier?
It is in a grove of pine in the outskirts of Jin Guan,
The green of spring has covered the stairs,
An oriole is singing on a leaf.

(The Emperor) has visited him three times to consult about the state affairs (1),
(Zhu) has loyally assisited the emperors of two generations.(2).
Ever since he died before the victory of the battle(3),
All the heroes have wept on their coats over this death.

Translated by musketeerleoleo

(1): Long before Liu Bei (劉備), the Emperor of Shu (蜀), came into power and established his country, he had visited Zhuge Liang (諸葛亮) three times to recruit him as his strategist. In the first two times, Liu could not see Zhu because he was not at home. Liu’s brothers told him to relinquish, but he was determined. Liu revisited Zhu’s home in spring. Zhu’s servant told Liu that Zhu was taking a nap. Liu ordered not to wake him up and had waited in the lounge for a couple of hours. One of his brothers was already out of patience and wanted to wake up the arrogant wise guy, but Liu stopped him. Zhu came out. They discussed about the state affairs. Zhu pointed out that there were three keys to success: Opportunity (天時), Geographical Advantage (地利), and Human Condition (人和). He said that the Opportunity had been taken by Cao Cao (曹操)who had usurped power by holding the Han (漢) Emperor as hostage and acting in his name, while the Geographical Advantage had been taken by Sun Quan(孫權) who had a defensible natural barrier, the Yangtze River (長江). He advised Liu to take the last key which was to take advantage of his elite generals and strategists. Having been inspired by his analysis, Liu earnestly requested him to be his strategist. Zhu was moved by his courteous character and his ambition to revive the Han Dynasty. He accepted.

(2) After Liu Bei died, his son Liu Chan succeeded. Zhu was still in service of his son.

(3) Zhu had waged six wars against Wei (魏), the country established by Cao family, before his death. However, he did not succeed because he was disturbed by his country’s internal affairs and mistrusted by his new emperor, Liu’s son.

The Poet Sage: Du Fu

Du Fu (712-770) (杜甫 Dù Fǔ) also known as Dù Shàolíng (杜少陵) or Dù Gōngbù (杜工部) was a prominent Chinese poet during the Tang Dynasty. His courtesy name was Zǐ Měi (子美). He has been recognized as one of the greatest Chinese poets, along with another prominent poet, Li Po. As he always reflected a true picture of the suffering of the country and expressed his sympathy towards the people in his works, Chinese critics call him “poet historian" and "poet sage” .

The Background of the Poem

In this poem, Du fu had expressed his regret about Zhu’s death. He thought, if Zhuge Liang, the wisest Chinese strategist, had come to help his country, it would have got out of the warfare. In 775, An Lushan rebelled against his emperor in an attempt to usurp the power. The An Lushan Rebellion had brought tremendous destruction to the country and destabilized the society. Many people lost their families and homes, and were forced to go into exile.

Other Poems by Du Fu

  • A Spring View
  • Related Nodes

  • Tang Dynasty
  • The Anecdote of Zhuge Liang
  • The Three Kingdoms Period
  • The Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  • Du Fu Tu Fu
  • Chinese Poetry
  • Chinese History
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