Li Bai (Li Bo, Li Po) 701-762

Tang dynasty poet. Li grew up in Western China (modern Sichuan) and is said to have inherited something of the "bravura" characteristic of renowned literary predecessors hailing from this region such as Sima Xiangru and Chen Zi'ang. In the mid-720s, he travelled down the Yangzi Valley to make his fortune, and in 742 was summoned to court and given a post in the new Hanlin Academy, only to be expelled in 744. Li wandered for a time, was implicated for a time in the revolt of Prince Yun, and spent the final years of his life wandering the Yangzi Valley in search of a patron. There are 1004 poems ascribed to Li in the Complete Poetry of the Tang. Li was best known to his contemporaries for his yuefu poetry and ballads, which also served as the basis for his later reputation. Li Bai's reputation was considerable in his own lifetime, but probably secondary to that of poets such as Wang Wei. It was in the mid-Tang that Li is first raised to the eminence he continues to enjoy to this day. On this point, he is also particularly significant in being one of the earliest and most important figures in the cult of individual genius in Chinese poetry.

Works available in English:

  • Banished Immortal: visions of Li Tai-po (Sam Hamill). Fredonia, N.Y.: White
       Pine Press, 1987.
  • Bright Moon, Perching Bird: poems (J.P. Seaton and James Cryer).
       Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1987.
  • Endless River: Li Po and Tu Fu, a friendship in poetry (Sam Hamill). New York:
       Weatherhill, 1993.
  • I Didn't Notice the Mountain Growing Dark: poems of Li Pai and Tu Fu (Gary
       Geddes and George Liang). Dunvegan, Ont.: Cormorant Books, 1988.
  • Li Pai: 200 selected poems (Rewi Alley). Hong Kong: Joint Publishing Co.,
  • Li Po: a new translation (Sun Yu). Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 1982.
  • Li Po and Tu Fu (Arthur Cooper). Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin Books, 1973.
  • Li-Tu: Ch'iu- p'u verses & scattered sentiments: poetic cycles (Bradford S.
       Miller). West Hills CA: IMP Press, 1997.
  • Poems (from the Cathay translations by Ezra Pound). New York: Dieu Donne
       Press and Paper, 1981.
  • Poems (Elling Eide). Lexington, Ky.: Anvil Press, 1984.
  • The Selected Poems of Li Po (David Hinton). New York: New Directions Pub
       Co., 1996.
  • The Works of Li Po, the Chinese Poet (Shigeyoshi Obata). New York: Paragon
       Book Reprint Corp., 1965.
  • Three Chinese Poets: translations of poems by Wang Wei, Li Bai, and Du Fu
       (Vikram Seth). New York: HarperPerennial, 1992.