[Famous Chinese Poet] Li Bai
Fromcultural-china.com Date:04-30-2015 Attention:3445       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

将进酒

Bring in the Wine


君不见,黄河之水天上来,奔流到海不复回。

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

君不见,高堂明镜悲白发,朝如青丝暮成雪。

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

人生得意须尽欢,莫使金樽空对月,

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

天生我材必有用,千金散尽还复来。

Since heaven gave the talent, let it be employed!

烹羊宰牛且为乐,会须一饮三百杯。

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

岑夫子!丹丘生!

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

将进酒;君莫停。

Bring in the wine! Let your cups never rest!

与君歌一曲,请君为我侧耳听。

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

钟鼓馔玉不足贵,但愿长醉不愿醒。

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

古来圣贤皆寂寞,惟有饮者留其名。

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

陈王昔时宴平乐,斗酒十千恣欢谑。

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.

主人何为言少钱,径须沽取对君酌。

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

五花马,千金裘。

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

呼儿将出换美酒,与尔同消万古愁。

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.

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