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See translations by E. Eide (1984) and S. Hamill (1987); biography by A. Waley (1950).
(Li T’ai-po). Born 701; died 762. A Chinese poet of the T’ang era.
Li Po spent his childhood and adolescence in Szechwan province. He refused to take the examinations necessary to acquire an official position. He traveled about the country (721–738) and wrote poetry, creating majestic pictures of mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and bamboo groves. The hyperbolic, cosmic images of Li Po’s landscape poetry reflected his desire to rise above mundane life.
In his youth, Li Po was attracted to Taoism, which he interpreted as the doctrine of man’s freedom from the shackles of Confucian ritual, and praised the Taoist recluses. He wrote of the difficult life and bravery of the soldiers along the borders and of military campaigns that ruined the peasants and took thousands of lives. The poet was received with honor at the court of the emperor, who conferred on him the highest scholarly rank. But court life quickly disillusioned him. In 744 he left the capital Ch’ang-an.
In Lo-yang, Li Po met the poet Tu Fu and traveled with him. Li Po’s poems of this period are filled with indignation at the coarseness and arrogance of the aristocracy and at the cruelty of public officials. During the An Lu-shan uprising against the emperor (756) the poet was in the service of Prince Li Ling, who later also opposed the emperor. As a supporter of the prince, Li Po was exiled to Yeh-lang; he was pardoned three years later.
The poetic heritage of Li Po comprises over 900 poems; the “Ancient Times” series, poetry in the yüeh-fu folk-song genre, quatrains, and fu, or rhythmic prose, were among them. The majority of these works were written in simple language and lack false ornamentation. Li Po did much to democratize Chinese poetry and his works exerted a tremendous influence on the development of T’ang and later of Sung poetry. Li Po ranks among the greatest poets in world literature.
WORKSLi T’ai-po ch’üan chi, vols. 1–20. Shanghai, 1908.
Li T’ai-po ch’üan chi, vols. 1–4. Peking, 1957.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannaia lirika. Moscow, 1957.
REFERENCESKonrad, N. I. [Introductory article] in Tri tanskikh poeta. Moscow, 1960.
Fishman, O. L. Li Bo: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Moscow, 1958.
Eidlin, L. “Poet velikogo naroda.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1962, no. 12.
Li Po yen-chiu lun wen-chi. Peking, 1964.
O. L. FISHMAN