Saturday, April 25, 2009

Poet, Li Po, Master of Imaginary Landscapes

I think it was Dr. Bloom, an Internet friend of mine (one of my many "imaginary friends" as my children and husband call them), who turned me on to the magnificently eloquent, but wine-loving, Li-Po. Either that or I stumbled across his writings in my study of the Tao. Either way, I'm so glad to have found him and his beautiful, inspiring "imaginary landscapes". Enjoy! ~~Marion, enjoying Saturday

Here's a bit of a bio to introduce you to the honorable Mr. Po: "Li Po was born in what is now Sichuan Province. At 19 he left home and lived with a Taoist hermit. After a time of wandering, he married and lived with his wife's family. Then he lived briefly as a poet at the Tang court in Chang'an. He decided to return to a life of Taoist study and poetry writing.

During his wanderings in 744 he met Tu Fu, another famous poet of the period. In 756Li Po became an unofficial poet laureate to Prince Lin. The prince was soon accused of intending to set up an independent kingdom and was executed. Li Po was arrested and imprisoned, but a high official looked into Li Po's case. The high official had Li Po released and made him a staff secretary. In the summer of 758, the charges were revived. Li Po was banished to Yeh-lang.

Li Po frequently celebrated the joy of drinking. According to legend, Li Po drowned while drunkenly leaning from a boat to embrace the moon's reflection on the water. Most scholars believe he died from cirrhosis of the liver or from mercury poisoning due to Taoist longevity elixirs.

Most of Li Po's works are lost, but almost 2000 poems were collected in 1080. Li Po is best known for his pieces describing voyages through imaginary landscapes. He prefers older poetic forms such as songs or ballads. Some themes expressed in Li Po's works are the sorrows of those separated by the demands of duty and the relief found in wine. He also wrote about friendship, solitude, the passage of time, and the joys of nature." ---from

BY Li-Po

I take my wine jug out among the flowers
to drink alone, without friends.

I raise my cup to entice the moon.
That, and my shadow, makes us three.

But the moon doesn't drink,
and my shadow silently follows.

I will travel with moon and shadow,
happy to the end of spring.

When I sing, the moon dances.
When I dance, my shadow dances, too.

We share life's joys when sober.
Drunk, each goes a separate way.

Constant friends, although we wander,
we'll meet again in the Milky Way.

Li T'ai-po



A wind, bringing willow-cotton, sweetens the shop,
And a girl from Wu, pouring wine, urges me to share it.
With my comrades of the city who are here to see me off;
And as each of them drains his cup, I say to him in parting,
Oh, go and ask this river running to the east
If it can travel farther than a friend's love!

Li Po



When I was a boy I called the moon a
white plate of jade, sometimes it looked
like a great mirror hanging in the sky,
first came the two legs of the fairy
and the cassia tree, but for whom the rabbit
kept on pounding medical herbs, I
just could not guess. Now the moon is being
swallowed by the toad and the light
flickers out leaving darkness all around;
I hear that when nine of the burning suns out
of the ten were ordered to be shot down by
the Emperor Yao, all has since been quiet
and peaceful both for heaven and man,
but this eating up of the moon is for me
a truly ugly scene filling me with forebodings
wondering what will come out of it.

Li Po


Kelly said...

Enjoyed getting the history on this before reading his poems. Actually, he sounds like quite a character, lol!

I know you're drawn to the moon references!

Pam said...

I like!

Btw, I'm really sorry to hear about your mom's problems!!! Many cyber hugs! She's in my prayers!

Marion said...

Thanks, Pammie and Kelly, my favorite "sister friends"!

Renee said...

Marion can you plese give your Mom my best wishes on a speedy recovery.

Red toe nails. What a fire engine.

Love Renee xoxo

Anonymous said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you; for bringing Mister Li Po into my life. Beautiful words he wrote.

Marion said...

Thanks, Renee and sweet Sarah (love your name--my youngest daughter is named Sarah, too!). I appreciate your kind words more than you'll ever know...