Li Bai (701-762) was a famous poet in the Tang Dynasty. He is considered one of the five great poets of the Tang Dynasty. Li Bai’s poems have a wide range of topics, involving life, love, nature, history and many other aspects. His poems have a wide range of themes and unique styles, and he is known as the “Poetry Immortal”.
Li Bai, a poet during the Tang Dynasty, is highly regarded for his contributions to Yuefu, Gexing, and quatrains. He was known for breaking the traditional norms of poetry creation, using various brushwork and an unpredictable style. Li Bai’s quatrains are known for their natural, bright and elegant language that expresses a range of emotions in a concise manner. Among the many poets of the Tang Dynasty, Li Bai was the only one who was equally proficient in both Wujue and Qijue.
Li Bai’s poems are grand and elegant, and his artistic achievements are considered to be among the highest. He was often referred to as “the exiled immortal” and his poems were primarily focused on describing the beauty of the motherland’s landscapes and expressing his own inner emotions. Li Bai’s style is characterized by its majestic, romantic and unrestrained spirit. He is famous for his imaginative use of techniques such as exaggeration, metaphor, and personification, which creates a magical and moving artistic conception in his poems.
Li Bai’s influence on later generations of poets was profound. Many famous poets such as Han Yu, Su Shi, and Gao Qi were heavily influenced by Li Bai’s work. His poems, Pei Min’s swordsmanship, and Zhang Xu’s cursive script are collectively known as the three wonders of the Tang Dynasty.
His life, like a journey, can be divided into eight chapters. From the year 701 to the winter of 762, it tells the tale of a young man who ventured forth from his homeland, sought his place in the world, faced the trials of war and suffering, sought refuge in poetry as his only solace, before finally succumbing to his fate.
The first stage of his life is the gifted child (701-723), during this stage, Li Bai has demonstrated his talents with his many writing and poems.
At the the age of 24, carrying his sword, Li Bai left his hometown/country and started his journey in the world. It is often seen as his second stage in life, the embarking on a journey abroad (724-729), as his years of knowledge accumulation is combining with his life adventure. It was also around this time, he met his dear friend and idol, 孟浩然.
The third stage of his life, the wandering (730-733), took place during his time trying to find his place in the society, yet failing to achieve his desired outcome.
At the age of 33, he has seemingly found what he wants in life, thereby, entering the fourth stage, the Ascending (734-741). During this time, he was actively trying to get his work seen by the higher ranking people in the palace, networking his way into the royals.
At the fifth stage, The Triumph(742-743), he had reached the top of the mountain, having his work seen and much appraised by the then emperor, he was invited a role in the palace to server the emperor. It was said during this time, he was very much favored by the emperor over any other officials then. This has also resulted to jealousy among the peers. However, a beast will always belong to the wild, however beautiful the palace might be. After just one year, he was tired of the life in the palace and eventually got dismissed.
The sixth stage of his life came when he met his dear friend Du Fu, another prominent figure in the history of classical poetry. During the year they’ve met, they sang, they wrote, they travelled, and they explored the world. Eventually, they depart in year 745, it was the last time they ever seen each other.
The seventh stage of his life might have been the worst, as the infamous war, the An Lushan Rebellion（安史之亂）, broke out during this time, he fled to the south yet was eventually captured but escaped. Having suffered through many unimaginable things, it also changed his style of writing.
The final stage of his life was his end scene. He handed his last piece of writing to this friend, titled “The End Scene”
The mighty roc takes wing and soars,
Through all the realms, his strength endures.
He shakes the heavens with his might,
And in the wind, his spirit takes flight.
To the East he journeys on and on,
With my sleeve grasped tight, he is gone.
Let future generations hear my tale,
Of Confucius’ passing, let none be pale.
For though he’s gone, his legacy will live,
Through those inspired, his spirit will give.
Who will grieve and weep for my death,
When all that’s left is my final breath?