Temple of the King of Shu
Your heroism under the sky
From year to year spread far and nigh.
Like tripod did three kingdoms reign;
Old royal coins were used again.
Your premier struck your kingdom’s root;
But your son did not follow suit.
Even Western dancers felt sad
To make Northern conquerors glad.
The Han Empire was divided into three kingdoms: Wei in the north, Wu in the east and Shu in the west where coins of the Han Dynasty were used. After the death of the King of Shu, his son surrendered to the King of Wei and enjoyed the Western dance as if he were not a captive of the Northern Kingdom, and even dancers of Shu were grieved.
“Temple of the King of Shu” is a work by Liu Yuxi, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. This poem is intended to praise the heroes and despise the mediocre, praising Liu Bei’s achievements, lamenting the lack of successors in the Shu Han cause, and summarizing the historical lessons of the fall of the Shu Han. The first couplet is about the powerful temple of the late lord; the second couplet praises Liu Bei’s heroic performance; the neck couplet sighs for Liu Bei’s unsuccessful career and the unworthiness of his heirs; and the last couplet laments the death of the latter. The first half of the poem is about merit and the second half is about decay, which is a warning to the world.