At 20 he started his 10-year-long travels from north to south.
At 35 he went to Chang'an, where he stayed for ten years without getting any position in the government. His disappointment made him look at reality and see the sharp contrast between the life of the upper classes and that of the ordinary people. He began to write poems about the sufferings of the poor.
After the An Lushan rebellion began, he had a hard time as a refugee, but this brought him closer to the people. His well-known poems describing three officials and three departures were written during this period.
In 759 he went to Chengdu. After wandering in Sichuan, Hubei and Hunan for more than ten years, he finally died on board a small boat on his way from Changsha to Yueyang.
After 20 he first travelled for and wide in Sichuan, and then he started a long journey to Central, East and North China. He did not sit for the civil service examination, for he looked down upon it. But he wished to become an official.
When he was 42, he was recommended to Tang Xuan Zong , who ordered him to go to Chang'an. He stayed there for three years and was bitterly disappointed. During the years of An Lushan's rebellion, he joined the staff of Prince Li Lin. Later, because Li Lin tried to seize power and failed, Li Bai was exiled to Yelang. On his way to Yelang he was freed by an amnesty. He went to East China and died at 62 in Dangtu, Anhui.
He wrote as many as 900 poems. Some of them describe the life of the people; some describe the magnificent scenery he saw; others express his own wishes and sorrows. His poems are characterized by unusual imagination and free and direct expression of feelings. That is why he is called a romantic poet.
At dawn I left Baidi towering in the midst of colorful clouds, And reached Jiangling a thousand Li away in a day. The screams of monkeys on either bank went on and on, While my light boat passed by ten thousand hills.
Satisfaction and admiration will fill our hearts when we read such beautiful and dashing lines. They are so colorful, so musical, and so impressive. The image in the poem - a boat rushing toward down the gorges-is just a description of the poet himself.
Bai Juyi wrote more poems than any other Tang poet-nearly 3,000. Many of them deal with important social and political problems, and show signs of Du Fu's influence. He also wrote many lyrics expressing his personal feelings. His two long narrative poems-"The Everlasting Sorrow" and "The Song of a Pipa Player"-are among the best known. Many of his poems have deep meaning, and they are written in simple and plain language, which ordinary readers can understand.
The following are a few lines from "The Old Man with a Broken Arm":
In the south and in the north of my village people wept sadly; Children were parting from parents and husbands from wives. Everyone said that in battles against the southern tribes, Of ten thousand men sent there not one returned.The poem clearly shows the poet's opposition to battles against border tribes, which caused miseries to both Han and tribal poeple.
In "The Song of a Pipa Player" there are these lines describing the beautiful music produced by a Pipa (a musical instrument):
Strong and loud, the thick string sounded like a sudden shower; Weak and soft, the thin string whispered in your ear. When strong and weak, loud and soft sounds were mixed, They were like big and tiny pearls falling on a jade plate.
Tung Chi-chang was the principal spokesman and theoretical leader of a tightly knit group of literati who set the underlying critical and theoretical tone of painting and calligraphy for the next three-hundred years. In painting and calligraphy Tung sought and and achieved a return to a style of strong and sometimes even provocative impact. His calligraphy is always full-bodied and rounded, looking backwards to the great calligraphers of the Sung and Yuan periods.
---From Masterpieces of Chinese Calligraphy in the National Palace Museum