|Also Known As:||"Li Bai", "Li Po"|
|Death:||Died in Ma'anshan, Anhui, China|
|Occupation:||Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty|
|Managed by:||Private User|
About 白 李
Li Bai, 李白, (Lǐ Bái or Lǐ Bó; lived 701 – 762), also known in the West by various other transliterations, especially Li Po, was a major Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty poetry period. He has been regarded as one of the greatest poets in China's Tang period, which is often called China's "golden age" of poetry. Around a thousand existing poems are attributed to him. Thirty-four of his poems are included in the popular anthology Three Hundred Tang Poems.
In the area of Chinese cultural influence, Li Bai's poetry has been much esteemed from his lifetime through the present day. His influence also extends to the West through many translations, adaptations, and much inspiration.
The two "Books of Tang", The Old Book of Tang and The New Book of Tang remain the primary sources of bibliographical material on Li Bai. Other sources include internal evidence from poems by or about Li Bai, and certain other sources.
The year of Li Bai's birth is known to be 701. He was born somewhere in Central Asia. Apparently, his family had originally dwelt in what is now southeastern Gansu, and later moved to Jiangyou, near modern Chengdu in Sichuan province, when he was perhaps five years old. Two accounts given by contemporaries Li Yangbing (Preface to the Thatched Cottage Collection) and Fan Chuanzheng (Tang's Zuo Sheyi Hanlin Xueshi Li Gong's Xin Mubei Bingxu) stated that his family was originally from what is now southeastern Gansu, as in the Xin Tangshu 215. The evidence suggests that during the Sui Dynasty, during the 610's, his ancestors, most likely as the result of some act of crime, were forced to relocate "incognito" from their original home in what is now Gansu to some location further west. Some believe that Li Bai's birthplace is Suiye (Chinese: 碎叶城; pinyin: Suìyè Chéng) in Central Asia (near modern-day Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan).
While she was pregnant with him, Li Bai's mother had a dream of a great white star falling from heaven. This seems to have contributed to the idea of his being a banished immortal (one of his nicknames). That the Great White Star was synonymous with Venus helps to explain his style name, "Tai Bai".
In 705, when Li Bai was four years old, his father secretly moved his family to Sichuan, near Chengdu, where he spent his childhood. There is currently a monument commemorating this in Zhongba Town, Jiangyou, Sichuan province.
The young Bai read extensively, including Confucian classics such as The Classic of Poetry (Shijing) and the Classic of History (Shujing), as well as various astrological and metaphysical materials which the Confucians tended to eschew. He also engaged in other activities, such as taming wild birds and sword play. Apparently, he became accomplished in the martial arts; this autobiographical quote by Li Bai helps to illustrate the wild life that he led in the Sichuan of his youth.
Indeed, the young Li Bai, before twenty years of age, had fought and killed, apparently for reasons of chivalry, several men.
In 720, he was interviewed by Governor Su Ting, who considered him a genius. Though he expressed the wish to become an official, he never took the civil service examination.
Final years and death
Li then returned to Jiangxi, although he did not cease his wandering lifestyle, he generally confined his travels to Nanjing and two cities in Anhui, Xuancheng and Li Yang. Eventually, in 762, Li Yangbing became magistrate of Dangtu, and Li Bai went to stay with him there. Then, the new emperor, Daizong, named Li Bai the Registrar of the Left Commandant's office in 762. However, by the time that the imperial edict arrived in Dangtu, Anhui, Li Bai was already dead.
It was reported, from uncertain sources, that Li Bai drowned after falling from his boat when he tried to embrace the reflection of the moon in the Yangtze River, something later believed by Herbert Giles. However, the actual cause appears to have been natural enough, although perhaps related to his hard-living lifestyle. Nevertheless, the legend that Li Bai died trying to embrace the reflection of the moon has entered Chinese culture, and is considered to be synonymous to an illusion.
The only surviving calligraphy in Li Bai's own handwriting, titled Shangyangtai (Going Up To Sun Terrace), located at the Palace Museum in Beijing, China.
Criticism of Li Bai's works has focused on his strong sense of the continuity of poetic tradition, his glorification of alcoholic beverages (and, indeed, frank celebration of drunkenness), his use of persona, the fantastic extremes of some of his imagery, his violations of formal poetic rules – and his ability to combine all of these with a seeming effortless virtuosity in order to produce inimitable poetry.