Li Bai

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  • Born: 701
  • Died: 762
  • Chinese/Japanese: (Li Bai, Li Bo / Ri Haku)

Li Bai, also sometimes known as Li Bo or Li P'o, is quite possibly the most famous and respected of all Chinese poets. His poetry is quoted, cited, and emulated throughout the tradition, over the course of the centuries, throughout East Asia.

He is believed to have been born somewhere in Central Asia, and to have moved to Sichuan province with his family around the age of five. He began traveling at the age of 25, seeking connections and a means of political advancement. In 742, he was invited to the Tang Imperial Court, and in 755, he fought alongside Imperial forces attempting to suppress the An Lushan Rebellion; his lord was defeated, and Li was exiled to Guizhou by the rebels. This did not last long, however, as the rebellion was eventually ended, and a general amnesty declared, allowing Li and many others to return to the capital.

He was a contemporary of the great Tang poet Du Fu.