|Li Bai (A.D. 701-762)|
Po, or Li Bo or Li Bai (李白),
also known as Li Taibo or Li Taipo (太白),
is a famous Chinese poet. He is considered as the greatest romantic poet of
the Tang dynasty. Renowned as the Poet Immortal (詩仙),
he is among the most well-respected poets in China's literary history.
Approximately 1,100 poems of his remain today. Li Po's works are introduced to the western world through the very liberal translations of
Japanese versions of his poems made by Ezra Pound. Li Bo is best known for
the extravagant imagination and striking Taoist
imagery in his poetry, as well as for his great love of drink. He is said
to have drowned in the Yangtze river, having fallen from his boat while
drunkenly trying to embrace the moon.
Li Po was born the son of a rich merchant in today Sichuan province. He was influenced as a child by Confucian and Taoist as a child, but ultimately his family heritage did not provide him with much opportunity in the aristocratic Tang dynasty. Though he expressed the wish to become an official, he did not sit for the Chinese civil service examination. Instead, beginning at age 25 he travelled around China, affecting a wild and free persona very much contrary to the prevailing ideas of a proper Confucian gentleman. This portrayal fascinated the aristocrats and common people alike and he was introduced to the Emperor Xuan Zong (玄宗) around 742.
He was given a post at the Hanlin (翰林, pinyin han4 lin2) academy which served to provide a source of scholarly expertise for the emperor. Li Po passed less than two years as a poet in the Emperor's service, before he was exiled for slander. He fled south and was involved in the An Lushan Rebellion against the Tang dynasty. The failure of the rebellion resulted in Li Bai being exiled a second time, to Yelang. He was pardoned before the exile journey was complete and spent the remainder of his life wandering China.
Li Po died in Dangtu in modern day Anhui.
Despite what legend would have, scholars believe his death was the result
of mercury poisoning due to a long history of imbuing Taoist longevity
Some of his most famous poems :
The bright moon shone
Do you not see the waters of
the Yellow River