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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Selected Poems, Li Po

The Selected Poems

By Li Po (701-762)

Translated by David Hinton

New Directions (1996)


About 4 years ago, I read this collection and last month I decided to reread Li Po, one of my favorite Chinese poets.

Li Po was called the “Banished Immortal,” an exiled spirit moving through this world with an unearthly ease and freedom from attachment. He is free from the attachments to self, however he profoundly belongs to mother earth. Li Po’s life was full of travel, big time pleasure drinking and a disdain of décor and authority. His meditative poems reflect his unfolding of being, rooted in non-being stillness.

I find Li Po easy to read, and that his poems lean from reading to self-reflection. Contemplative, yet, fun, profound they exist, somehow, from within the writer so long ago to within the reader of the present. Timeless so to say.

In wanting to share a poem, I just opened to a turned down page, and this was the poem:

9/9,  Out drinking on Dragon Mountain

I’m an exile among yellow blossoms smiling


Soon drunk, I watch my cap tumble in the wind,

Dance in love—A guest the moon invites.


Li Po, ended his life out drunk in a boat, fell into the river and drowned trying to embrace the moon.