[Famous Chinese Poet] Li Bai
Fromcultural-china.com Date:04-30-2015 Attention:7777       Print

This is thought to be the only surviving calligraphy of Li Bai.

Tang dynasty is considered as the golden age of Chinese poetry, while Li Bai is the poet of poets. He is recognized as the most outstanding one among Chinese romantic poets.

Li Bai is called "immortal banished from Heaven" by literary critics in china. It sums up not only the characteristics of Li Bai's poetry but also the personality of the poet himself.

Legends about His Birth

The birth of Li Bai is not common. It is said that Li Bai's mother dreamed of the Venus/ Great White Planet falling into her arms and then she bore Li Bai. Therefore he got the style name Taibai, literally "Great White".

Actually the birthplace of Li Bai is also a myth. There are two main concepts, one says that it is Changlong county, Mianzhou(today’s Jiangyou city, Sichuan province), and the other saying is that it is Suyab of western region(near today’s Tokmak, Kyrghizstan)

Li Bai and Taoism:

Since very young Li Bai worshiped Taoism. He is deeply influenced by Zhuangzi and his thoughts, and he claims that the boundary between finity and infinity should be broke through spirituality.

Here is a story about Li Bai

The peony in the palace bloomed. Emperor Xuanzong of Tang and Concubine Yang came to enjoy the flowers and called for Li Bai to write poems. However, Li Bai was heavily drunk. The ministers had to carry him to the palace. When he woke, Li Bai asked the emperor to bestow him more wine so that he could write good poems. He wrote three poems very quickly when he finished the drink. Xuangzong was pleased and asked Concubine Yang to give Li Bai a glass of rakee from western country.

Appreciate Well-known Poetry by Li Bai


Bring in the Wine


See how the Yellow River's waters move out of heaven. Entering the ocean, never to return.


See how lovely locks in bright mirrors in high chambers, though silken-black at morning, have changed by night to snow.


...Oh, let a man of spirit venture where he pleases. And never tip his golden cup empty toward the moon!


Since heaven gave the talent, let it be employed!


Spin a thousand pieces of silver, all of them come back!


To the old master, Cen, and the young scholar, Danqiu,


Bring in the wine! Let your cups never rest!


Let me sing you a song! Let your ears attend!


What are bell and drum, rare dishes and treasure? Let me be forever drunk and never come to reason!


Sober men of olden days and sages are forgotten, and only the great drinkers are famous for all time.


Prince Chen paid at a banquet in the Palace of Perfection. Ten thousand coins for a cask of wine, with many a laugh and quip.


Why say, my host, that your money is gone? Go and buy wine and we'll drink it together!


My flower-dappled horse, my furs worth a thousand,


Hand them to the boy to exchange for good wine, and we'll drown away the woes of ten thousand generations!

Once a renowned Chinese poet read Li Bai’s poems and he gave Li Bai the name " Banished Transcendent ". It is because the imagination in Li Bai’s poems are so novel and bold that common people could never think this way. Li Bai’s accomplishment in literature is originally high and could not be approached, before or after.

When he wrote poems, Li Bai does not like to use obscure phrases or allusions as some poets would do. He learned a lot from folk literature and folk songs of Qin dynasty, Han dynasty and Wei Period, which shaped his own style. Li Bai uses the simplest words but combine them with the most original imagination, by using literary techniques such as exaggeration, metaphor, personification and so on to the extreme. That is the reason why people think his poems are bold, unrestrained and ethereal. The variable imagination, grand images, fresh phrases and unrestrained style in his poems affected poets of the later generations a lot.