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 Sword:

Sword is romantic and of idealism color, which is fit for Li Bai's personality. This explains why Li Bai a scholar would learn swordplay.

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.

Immortal of Wine

Wine inspires Li Bai. It is not only because Li Bai wrote a lot of poems about wine but also because wine is somehow the home to his soul. Du Fu ever described Li Bai like this: he sleeps on the street when he is drunk. He would ignore the calling from the emperor and call himself the immortal of wine. However, at the same time life of Li Bai is also full of contradiction and sufferings. There is a huge gap between the ideal and the reality, which is not easy to cross. Li Bai could not realize his dreams so that he can only drink his sorrow down to get transient satisfaction. The death of him is also legendary. Only a romantic person like Li Bai would have such a romantic death. It is said that one night Li Bai drunk himself on a boat near Niuzhu rock. He tried to fish for the moon in the water and was drowned.

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.

Read the poems Li Bai wrote for imperial concubine Yang Yuhuan

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.

Appreciate Well-known Poetry by Li Bai

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.

Comment:Chinese poets often use the metaphor of flowing water as flying time. In this poem Li Bai compares time to the Yellow River, which is famous for its grandness. The Yellow River wasters come from the remote place, like they move out of heaven. The image lays strength on the sense how time flies and they would never come back.

飞流直下三千尺,疑是银河落九天。
Its torrent dashes down three thousand feet from high;As if the Silver River fell from azure sky.

Comment:Chinese poets often use the metaphor of flowing water as flying time. In this poem Li Bai compares time to the Yellow River, which is famous for its grandness. The Yellow River wasters come from the remote place, like they move out of heaven. The image lays strength on the sense how time flies and they would never come back.

举杯邀明月,对影成三人。
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,for her, together with my shadow, will make three people.

Comment: Li Bai compares the fall to the bright stars, which is vivid and apt. These two sentence depicted the river full of power and grandeur. Now people often use Li Bai’s these two sentences to show the grand view of fall.

白发三千丈,缘愁似个长。
To thousands of metres grows the white hair,Why in my heart are there sorrows so deep?

Comment:The poet invited the moon and his shadow under the moonlight to drink with him. The fancy made the poem optimistic and vividly.

【More poems by Li Bai】

Li Bai ended up spending most of his life traveling. During his travels, he wrote many poems about nature. These popular poems combined exaggeration and vivid analogy. Here are some examples of verses: "Traveling on the roads in Shu is harder than scaling the blue sky" (Hard Roads in Shu), "see how the Yellow River's waters move out of heaven, entering the ocean, never to return" (Drinking You A Toast), and "The 3000-foot-long fall is straight to fly; Is the Milky Way falling from the sky?" (Overlook at Lushan Fall) The following is a vedio about Li Bai's poems and the scenic beauty under his pen.

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Li Bai Memorial

The Li Bai Memorial, located at his birthplace, Zhongba Town of northern Jiangyou County in Sichuan Province, is a museum in memory of Li Bai, a Chinese poet in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was prepared in 1962 on the occasion of 1,200th anniversary of his death, completed in 1981 and opened to the public in October 1982. The memorial is built in the style of the classic garden of the Tang Dynasty.

The memorial has collected Li Bai's works in 80 different editions printed in the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, 700 volumes in total; 2,738 items of rare paintings and calligraphies left from the Ming and Qing dynasties as well as the modern and contemporary times; and sixteen steles left from the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties, three of which are Class One relics.

Treasures Collected in Li Bai Memorial:

Li Bai's Calligraphy - Going to the Veranda

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

Part of Handscroll

Li Bai (李白, 701 – 762), Tang Dynasty (628 - 907)

Handscroll

Ink on paper

28.5 x 38.1 cm

National Palace Museum, Beijing

Content: 山高水长,物象千万,非有老笔,清壮可穷。十八日,上阳台书,太白。

Li Bai Stamps

Straits released several series of postage stamps, with Li Bai included to commemorate this great poet.

On June 12th, 1967, Taiwan released Chinese Poets stamp. Among them a piece of two-yuan par value, to praise the high achievement of Li Bai in literature.

On August 10th, 1983, China released Ancient Chinese LitterateursⅠ, with four stamps included. On the eight-fen stamp is the portrait of Li Bai and the view of his poem saying “Your sail, a single shadow, becomes one with the blue sky/Till now I see only the river, on its way to heaven”. It was designed by Li Dawei and drawn by famous artist Liu Lingcang.

LI BAI & DU FU

A Book about Li Bai and His Poetrty

Returning to a Chinese tradition that locates poetry at the heart of education, Li Bai & Du Fu: An Advanced Reader of Chinese Language and Literature offers an innovative approach to studying the writings of China’s most revered classical poets.

Li Bai's Chicken - A Dish for Commemoration

According to one story, Li Bui, the great poet of the Tang Dynasty, went to Anlu County, In China's central province of Hubci, where he spent more than ten years of casual life. He had his servant cook chickens for him while he ate, drank and composed poems. In 742, he was recommended to serve in the imperial academy. Over a year later, he left that post believing that he was not being listened to. To commemorate this outstanding poet, people later named this chicken dish after him.

Tang dynasty is considered as the golden age of Chinese poetry. According to the Quantangshi anthology created under the Kangxi emperor of the Qing Dynasty, there were almost 50,000 Tang poems written by over 2,200 authors. The following are some of the most well-known Poets of Tang dynasty.