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Located in the south of Hubei, known as "the South Gate of Hubei", Xianning has great renown for “Chibi old haunt of the Three Kingdoms, inland nuclear power city”, which has great advantages of its "mountain", "water" "geography","location","culture","scenery","energy"and the trend of development. Xianning is a suitable place to do ...[more]
location
Xianning City, attached to Hubei Province, known as “the southern gateway to Hubei”, is famous for sweet-scented os... [more]
Administrative divisions
Lying in the southeast of Hubei Province, along the south bank of the Yangtze River, and at the junction of Hunan, Hu... [more]
History
 Despite the late administrative construction of Xianning (prefecture-level city), the counties and urban districts under its administration all have a long history. The territory of today’s Xianning belonged to Jing Chu in the Xia and Shang Dynasties ( about 2200-1100 BC), Nan County in the Qin Dynasty(221-206 BC ), [more]
Shuangxi “Shengyuan” Deserted in Ruins
http://English.xianning.gov.cn 09-07-30
 

  (http://www.xnnews.com.cn)

  1. The garden is now a ruin with broken walls on all sides. The porch made of blue flagstones is still tall and noble, while the door has left no trace but an empty hole. The grass is thriving outside the door opening .Two miniature wooden window lattice are carved oppositely with vines intertwining around .The white lime on the wall has long been severely mottled and shown an indefinable color after mixed with the large black bricks .Moss has blanketed the broken walls while spider webs stuffed them. The weeds have grown up to people’s waist high, and there is even a fruiting elm that has a diameter of one foot standing proudly among the dense weeds.

  That is the former residence of Shen Congwen, located in the east of  Shuangxi  town ,Xianning City and it is the Shenyuan Garden in Xianning people’s heart .With no sign of the name and no shap of a house, this ruin forty years ago was the residence of  Shen Congwen in cadre school , a man whose achievements in literature is only second to Lu Xun in modern and contemporary Chinese literature and who got the nomination for Nobel Prize but missed the honor because he had died two moths earlier.

  Although the living condition during cadre school period was tatty, it is still beyond our expectation that with only forty years passing by, Shen Yuan should have been in such loneliness and bleakness. Clusters of light green elm string are dancing in the tender evening wind, knowing nothing about the distress in human  world .While I am caressing the deserted walls in summer evenings , all kinds of thoughts crop up in my mind. Different feelings are haunting me, just like the vines around the windows, and can’t be forgotten.

  2. Quiet and lonely was the most striking feeling when Shen  first lived in Shuangxi. It should have been a fiery age in the 1960s and 1970s. There should have been little quietness for everyone who was fighting fiercely with destiny, nature and sibling. Shen  felt quite alone not only because he was in an old age when evacuated here from Beijing, but also because the function of his body was nearly scrapped due to severe hypertension and heart attack. He couldn’t work with the comrades in the cadre school at all, so he spent most of his time lying on the bed alone. Lying on bad alone, without a book to read and unable to understand local language, it is not surprising that he felt quiet and lonely.

  Survival was the highest requirement when Shen  lived in the cadre school. When in Shuangxi, he was nearly 60 with a broken heart. The blood pressure frequently reached 230 to 250 mmHg. It is not easy to survive under the harsh environment with such vulnerable body. He has changed his residence 3 to 4 times in just two years. This is the last one also the best one. It was ruined like this, let alone the other places.

  When Shen  first came to Shuangxi, he lived in a vacant room upstairs in the revolutionary committee region. The provisional wall was enclosed by three mattings. It was thrifty to sleep on hard floors covered with dust. What’s worse, there were tweeter fifty feet away from the residence broadcasting everyday from 7pm to 9pm. Especially when holding a general meeting, it would echo all day. Living in such a noisy place was simply nightmare for a hypertension and heart-attack sufferer. However, Shen  was not dejected. He has thought nothing of life and death. In the letter for his wife working in Xiangyang lake cadre school several miles away, he has even accounted for his funeral tranquilly: “it doesn’t matter if I die suddenly for it is quite natural. Just let the brothers clear up the mass. My little brother knows to take what he needs and distribute the rest to those needy comrades. You can stay in the Five Company. I believe that the comrades will take good care of you and you will live a good life. It won’t be tough for you to survive in case of retirement.”

  Short as the letter was, it reflected Shen’s sincere love for his wife and his virtuous moral. Although he was in a bad health not far from death, he was thinking for others always and everywhere…

  Old-style poetry is gratifying breakthrough when teacher was in cadre school. Since it was the first time he had come to Xianning, he couldn’t understand local language. Neither could he read a book nor could he work.  Then he resumed level and oblique and worked on poetry that he once learnt in the army when he was young.

  Loving the new clear….and Heavy snow of Shuangxi were his representative works at this time.

  Loving the new clear

  Withered grass was destroyed by the gale, making the vagabond homesick at the close of the year.

  Unable to realize his dream for so long, he wanted to get away from the mortal world.

  There was no good start, where should the promotion come from?

  Just because of its out-of-bone so it was called like to stay alone.

  I saw Du Fu as my bosom friend for his poetry revealed my ideal.

  In the dream, sometimes I boosted career promotion, sometimes I fell and screamed.

  The frightened horse groups would move restlessly if disturbed by noise after being silent for too long.

  The leaves murmured constantly, causing the horses in chaos.

  The weather suddenly turns fine with white cloud float in the blue sky.

  This nice day was the double nine festival.

  I would not sign for aging; instead, I was delighted about the promising.

  Separated as I with my families and friends, we could still share the same star.

  Small as the monocycle was, it still keeps moving forward without stop. 

  The whole poem starts with a low tone but ends with lofty spirit. Sometimes it was low-spirited like the murmuring leaves; sometimes it was high-spirited like running horses. In the sadness of separating with his families and friends, we can see a bright picture of white clouds and blue sky. The whole poem has a profound meaning, especially the last sentence. It is amazing that even in a difficult situation where he couldn’t get the lowest insurance; he could make such an encouraging and optimistic poem.

  The long old-style poetry Heavy snow of Shuangxi expressed Shen’s homesickness for being away from his hometown and friends, revealed his pity for being old and frustrated, shown his expectation for the future.

  3. The former residence is in the easternmost of the town next to Shuangxi River and is just dozens of miles away to the north from supply and marketing cooperative and barbershop. The former site of supply and marketing cooperative is unchanged and its former slogan is still clear. While the barbershop along the river is gone without trace. It is believed that Shen  must have often visited here, buying tin or something to improve life, having a popular country-style haircut, and then walk home along the river.

  Noticing that we’re hovering in front of the former residence, a villager called Chen Kesheng initiatively came and told us that here is the former residence of Shen Congwen and has been visited by several groups of tourists this year. Chen Kesheng is 48 years old and neighbored with Shen Congwen when he was 8 or 9 years old. Chen Keguang has already built a new house, the former residence is deserted and dilapidated. Knowing that we want to interview Shen’s landlady, Chen led us to Chen Keguang’s new residence fervently. We recollected a lot about him through villager’s description.

  The white haired Mr. Shen, with his highly nearsighted glasses, took Chen Keguang, Chen Kesheng and other snot-nosed kids along with him searching for bricks and crocks, when he came back to his residence, he would put them on the little square table, took out the magnifying glass from the toolkit, making an appraisal of them one by one to find out whether or not there's cultural relics among them .The kids, with their running noses, eying the geezer who keened on rags picking curiously. How could the kids know that it's great fun for an old gentleman who likes collection to search some antiques or cultural relics for free! In the past, he used to pawn his wife's ring in order to collect some of his favorite treasures in hard time without regret, but nowadays, as long as he is physically baled, he could find them in the wild as he liked. Maybe, there are many valuable antiques among them, which can't be recognized by local people.

  It was just by the same little square table that Mr. Shen, with his reading glasses, bending his body, collating the thick six hundred thousand words transcribed Research on Ancient Chinese Costumes with neat and beautiful cursive, when he got tired, he would walk to the bank of Shuangxi River from the house slowly, took a walk with his hands backhand his waist or sat by the river bank pondering the ancient Chinese costume, bronze mirrors in the Tang and Song dynasties, or the lacquer wares of the Warring States. He might also stare at the river blankly, missing his Cuicui, Long'er and Huhu (Figures in his novels)

  4. It is fortunate for Shuangxi and the former residence to hold Shen’s body and reflect his shadow. But now, the former residence has turned dwelling place of an elm and numerous insects and grass with only some broken walls. It must disappear completely after several years if there is still no one visiting. How will the Xianning people, once honored for Mr. Shen’s arrival, commemorate and pay tribute to Shen  in the future? Is going far to Fenghuang in west Hunan the only choice? There, as the son of Fenghuang people, his former residence has been preserved well as good as new and was visited by lots of tourists. Fortunately, there is still some trace of Shen in Shuangxi-- the bedstead once used by Shen was moved to Fenghuang ancient house and shown to tourists. What can we show to them if the curious tourists come here to seek origin? 

  Shen has left us precious spiritual wealth in just two years in Shuangxi. He kept great ambition even in adversity and old age, possessed optimism even in bad health, which worth engraving on our memory. Then isn’t it necessary for us to leave something for his arrival? Let’s say, the love story of the famous poet Lu You and his wife Tang Wan has left a good reputation for the Chaitoufeng composed in Shenyuan of Shaoxing. Can’t Shenyuan garden in Shuangxi be famous for The Letters of Shen, Loving the new clear and Heavy snow of Shuangxi?


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