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Li Bai
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Poet
    (701-762)
    Born in Suyab, Kyrgyzstan
    Chinese poet
    Was one of 'the Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup'
    Poems include 'Waking from Drunkenness on a Spring Day,' 'Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon' and 'Contemplating Moonlight'
    His name is also written as Li Bo, Li Po or Li Pai (due to different methods of converting Chinese characters into the English alphabet); Li Taibo, Li Tai-po or Li Taibai (from incorporating his 'courtesy name' Taibai); and Ri Haku or Ri Taihaku (from works that were translated from Chinese to Japanese to English).
    He tried to present himself as a member of the imperial family.
    By the time he was 20, he had fought and killed several men in duels.
    His stint as a court poet lasted little more than a year, until he ticked off the head eunuch and the Emperor's favorite concubine, who together convinced the emperor to dismiss him.
    According to legend, he drowned when he fell out of a boat while drunkenly trying to embrace the reflection of the moon on the Yangtze River.
    He could create memorable poems even when drunk.
    He was given the honorific 'Immortal Poet' by the Tang Emperor.
    He influenced the Imagist poets of the 20th century, such as Ezra Pound.
    Gustav Mahler incorporated four of his poems into 'Das Lied von der Erde.'
    A critic said of his poems, 'They are as important in Chinese literary history as Shakespeare is to the people of Britain.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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