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Li Bai

Li Bai (AD 7O1 -762), the most outstanding poet at the height of the Tang Dynasty, is one of the great romantic poets after Qu Yuan. He was later called the "poetic genius."  Li Bai's life was full of frustration and his thoughts were complex. Besides a great talent for poetry, Li Bai had also an air of a swordsman, hermit, Taoist and adviser. Notions of Confucianism, Taoism and chivalry were all embodied in his character.

His life philosophy was "rest on one's laurels."

Li Bai's extant works include more than 900 poems, which artistically recount his own life, social reality and the spirit of the high Tang Dynasty.

Li Bai had great political ambitions all through his life and he never concealed his yearning for fame and honor in his poems, as in Chant of Liang Fu- A Small Hill, Read the Story of Zhuge Liang ,and To Cai Xiong

Li Bai revered the chivalrous spirit when he was young and wrote many poems on this, like Song of a Swordsman. Three years of political life in Chang'an exerted a great influence on Li Bai's literary creation. He found that his own political ideals were in sharp contradiction with the seamy sides of social reality, which inspired him to write a series of famous poems to express his frustrations, such as Hard Goes the way, Ancient Pocms, and Drinking Alone at A Cold Night -A RePly to Wang the Twelfth among His Brothers. Li Bai was a roamer all through his life and traveled all over the country, visiting many famous mountains and rivers.

Many poems praise the beautiful landscapes of the country, reflecting his uninhibited character and strong desire for freedom. Traveling to Tianmu Mountain in a Dream: A Parting Song is his most classic work.

In the poem he gives full play to his wild imaginings of spiritual pursuit,which greatly soothes a soul so frustrated with the real world. The concluding lines, "How can I serve the haughty with my head down? No, I shall keep my heart buoyant and free forever, Oh!" resonates with his unyieiding reputation as an upright scholar.

As a great national poet Li Bai showed a great concern about war.He expressed ardent praise for soldiers defending the country's frontiers and relentlessly castigated the warlike ruling class, as reflected in his poems Song of the Frontier, Wars at the South of the Town, and The Song of Ding ,the Protector-General. Li Bai also wrote many yuelu poems (poems imitating folksongs and ballads) describing the hardships of common people and expressing his deep sympathy for them, for example, The Ballad of Changgan and The Song of Wu by Zi Ye.

Li Bai's poems has great artistic appeal. As a rornantic poet, he brought into play all means of romantic expression and achieved perfect unity between content and form in his poetry. Li Bai's poetry has an intense subjective and self-expressive tendency, and his emotions were always expressed with momentum of an avalanche.

Extreme exaggeration, apt comparison and profound imagination effected a high realism. When reading the lines, "Slashing water with the blade of my sword, it flows on all the more I raise my goblet, drown my dolour deep, yet it waxeth doubly sore," readers cannot help being moved by the despair a midst the grandiloquence. This expressive technique is especially seen in poems Traveling to Tianmu Mountain in a Dream: A Parting Song and Difficult is the way to Shu.

Li Bai often made extensive use of technique involving imagery, exaggeration, analogy and personification in his poems,concocting a vision of fantasy and mystique, in language that is brisk, lively and refined.

Li Bai's poetry was to profoundly influence the generations to come. Many famous poets, such as Han Yu, Meng jiao and Li He of the Tang Dynasty, Su Shi, Lu You and Xin Qiji of the Song Dynasty, and GaoQi, Yang Shen and Gong Zizhen of the Ming and Qing dynasties, were all deeply affected by Li Bai's poetry.

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