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Li Bai - Literature / Poet

Li Bai - Poet

Li Bai - China

701 - 762 (aged 61)
Li Bai

Called the Poet Immortal, Li Bai is often regarded, along with Du Fu, as one of the two greatest poets in China's literary history. Approximately 1,100 of his poems remain today.

Li Bai is best known for the extravagant imagination and striking Taoist imagery in his poetry, as well as for his great love for liquor. Like Du Fu, he spent much of his life travelling, although in his case it was because his wealth allowed him to, rather than because his poverty forced him. He is said to have drowned in the Yangtze River, having fallen from his boat while drunkenly trying to embrace the reflection of the moon.

Over a thousand poems are attributed to him, but the authenticity of many of these is uncertain.

One of Li Bai's most famous poems is Drinking Alone under the Moon

Amongst the flowers is a pot of wine;
I pour alone but with no friend at hand;
I lift the cup to invite the shining moon;
Along with my shadow, a fellowship of three.

The moon understands not the art of drinking;
The shadow gingerly follows my movements;
Still I make the moon and the shadow my company;
enjoy the springtime before too late.

The moon lingers while I am singing;
The shadow scatters while I am dancing;
We share the cheers of delight when sober;
We separate our ways after getting drunk;
Forever will we keep this unfettered friendship;
Til we meet again far in the Milky Way.

Like the other great Chinese poet, Du Fu, he spent much of his life travelling, although in his case it was because his wealth allowed him to, rather than because his poverty forced him. He is said to have drowned in the Yangtze River, having fallen from his boat while drunkenly trying to embrace the reflection of the moon.

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