Li Po

The vitality of a giant and the delicacy of a fairy prince. A freedom beyond most imaginations, and a rigorous artistic discipline that is, perhaps, even harder to imagine. No mere man could write so: so he is no man, but the spirit, the earthly presence, of the elemental power that is poetry.

Li Po - J.P. Seaton

Li Po is the god of poetry. He called himself only the god of wine, and refused on the grounds of his superiority to answer a call from his Emperor. His poetry shows us, almost always, a person who is outside the world we live in, looking even farther outward at things we can’t even imagine. He dances with the moon and his shadow, making a three that’s not a crowd. He meditates upon a mountain (p. 90) until he and the mountain are one. And yet he is the absolute master of the description of human intimacy. It seems almost impossible that the delicate picture of a young love growing into maturity in “The Ballad of Ch’ang-kan” should have been written by a swashbuckling drunkard, and no less that that poet should also be in communication with Ch’u Yuan and his Fisherman. It’s more understandable to discover in “Drinking with a Hermit Friend in the Mountains” that in a single excellent, immortal quatrain this man has repeated himself three times in a single line, and then stolen a line from a history book he’s just been reading (or has memorized) almost word for word! There is, after all, the saying that all poets borrow, great poets steal.

Li Po - David Hinton
During China’s T’ang Dynasty, a man named Li Po is born in the year 701, at the beginning of the great cultural flowering known as the High T’ang. He wanders. The moon beckons from his homeland, dances with his shadow. The river flows on the borders of heaven. He meets Tu Fu in a country wineshop, and they share a few days. Armies burn fields and cities. The T’ang smolders, a fitful ruin. In 762, Li Po’s wandering ends south of the Yangtze River, at someone else’s house, when he falls into a river and drowns trying to embrace the moon. The phenomenon of Li Po moves perpetually beyond the everyday facts which make up a life. He belongs at once to the realm of immortals and to the earth’s process of change, its spontaneous movement beyond itself. But his most enduring work remains grounded in the everyday experience we all share. He wrote 1200 years ago, half a world away, but in his poems we see our world trans-formed by winds of the immortals, bones of the Tao.

WAYs – Li Po’s Jade Staircase Lament

WORDs – Li Po’s Looking in the Mirror and Writing What My Heart Finds There

Li Po and Tu Fu

On the mountain: A conversation

you ask
why I perch
on a jade green mountain?
I laugh
but say nothing
my heart
like a peach blossom
in the flowing stream
going by
in the depths
in another World
not among men.

James Cryer

Good Rain: A Night in Spring

The good rain knows its season
Come spring it comes to life again
With the wind, so stealthy in the night
Moistens all things so delicate so silent
On the wild paths clouds all black
lI morning’s glow, the red wet spots
Flowers weigh down upon the Brocade Mandarin.


The Birds Have Vanished into the Sky

The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

Sam Hamill

East Mountain

I love East Mountain’s music.
I could stay a thousand years here or just never leave.
I ‘d  wave my dancing sleeve,
and sweep clean the Mountain of the Five Trunked Pine.

 J.P. Seaton

Set Piece

silk sandals


Cid Corman