Li Bai

From Academic Kids

(Redirected from Li Po)
Names
Chinese:李白
Pinyin:Lǐ B or Lǐ Bi
Wade-Giles:Li Po or Li Pai
Zi:Tibi (太白)
Also known as:Poet Immortal
(Shīxiān, 詩仙)
Li Bai Chanting a Poem by  (13th century)
Enlarge
Li Bai Chanting a Poem by Liang Kai (13th century)

Li Bai or Li Po (701-762) was a Chinese poet living in Tang Dynasty. He was traditionally known as Lǐ B in Chinese, hence the familiar name Li Po in Wade-Giles romanisation. (This pronunciation, originally associated with the reading of Classical Chinese, has virtually passed out of use in modern China, partly as a result of language planning and standardisation).

Renowned as the Poet Immortal, Li Bai was among the most well-respected poets in China's literary history. Approximately 1,100 poems of his remain today. The western world was introduced to Li Bai's works through the very liberal translations of Japanese versions of his poems made by Ezra Pound.

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.

Contents

Biography

Li Bai was the son of a rich merchant; his birthplace is uncertain, but one candidate is Suiye in Central Asia (near modern day Tokmak, Kyrgyzstan). His family moved to Jiangyou, near modern Chengdu in Sichuan province, when he was 5 years old. He was influenced by Confucian and Taoist thought, 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 Xuanzong around 742.

He was given a post at the Hanlin Academy, which served to provide a source of scholarly expertise for the emperor. Li Bai remained less than two years as a poet in the Emperor's service before he was dismissed for an unknown indiscretion. Thereafter he wandered throughout China for the rest of his life. He met Du Fu in the autumn of 744, and again the following year. These were the only occasions on which they met, but the friendship remained particularly important for the starstruck Du Fu (a dozen of his poems to or about Li Bai survive, compared to only one by Li Bai to Du Fu). At the time of the An Lushan Rebellion he became involved in a subsidiary revolt against the emperor, although the extent to which this was voluntary is unclear. The failure of the rebellion resulted in his being exiled a second time, to Yelang. He was pardoned before the exile journey was complete.

Li Bai died in Dangtu in modern day Anhui. Traditionally he was said to have drowned attempting to catch the moon's reflection in a river; some scholars believe his death was the result of mercury poisoning due to a long history of imbibing Taoist longevity elixirs while others believe that he died of alcohol poisoning.

Poetry

Over a thousand poems are attributed to him, but the authenticity of many of these is uncertain. He is best known for his yue fu poems, which are intense and often fantastic. He is often associated with Taoism: there is a strong element of this in his works, both in the sentiments they express and in their spontaneous tone. Nevertheless, his gufeng ("ancient airs") often adopt the perspective of the Confucian moralist, and many of his occasional verses are fairly conventional.

Much like the genius of Mozart there exists many legends on how effortlessly Li Bai composed his poetry; he was said to be able to compose at an astounding speed, without correction. His favorite form is the jueju (five- or seven-character quatrain), of which he composed some 160 pieces. Using striking, unconventional imagery, Li Bai is able to create exquisite pieces to utilize fully the elements of the Chinese language. His use of language is not as erudite as Du Fu's but impresses equally through an extravagance of imagination and a direct correlation of his free-spirited persona with the reader. Li Bai's interactions with nature, friendship, and his acute observations of life inform his best poems. Some, like Changgan xing (translated by Ezra Pound as A River Merchant's Wife: A Letter), record the hardships or emotions of common people.

One of Li Bai's most famous poems is "Drinking Alone under the Moon" (月下獨酌, pinyin Yu Xi D Zhu), which is a good example of some of the most famous aspects of his poetry -- a very spontaneous poem, full of natural imagery and anthropomorphism. Here is the poem:

花間一壺酒, 獨酌無相親; 舉杯邀明月, 對影成三人。 月既不解飲, 影徒隨我身; 暫伴月將影, 行樂須及春。 我歌月徘徊, 我舞影零亂; 醒時同交歡, 醉後各分散。 永結無情遊, 相期邈雲漢。

Influence

Li Bai is known in the West partly due to Ezra Pound's versions of some of his poems in Cathay, and due to Gustav Mahler's integration of four of his works in Das Lied von der Erde. These were in a German translation by Hans Begthe, published in an anthology called Die chinesische Flte (The Chinese Flute), that in turn followed a French translation.

A crater on the planet Mercury has been named after him.

External links

cs:Li Po de:Li Bo es:Li Po eo:Li Bai fr:Li Bai it:Li Po ja:李白 fi:Li Bai th:หลี่ไป๋ zh:李白

Navigation

Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)

Information

  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Toolbox
Personal tools