Although many of Li Bai's poems have survived, even more were lost and there is difficulty regarding variant texts. One of the earliest endeavors at editing Li Bai's work was by his relative Li Yangbing , the magistrate of Dangtu , with whom he stayed in his final years and to whom he entrusted his manuscripts. However, the most reliable texts are not necessarily in the earliest editions. Song dynasty scholars produced various editions of his poetry, but it was not until the Qing dynasty that such collections as the Quan Tangshi Complete Tang Poems made the most comprehensive studies of the then surviving texts.
Critics have focused on Li Bai's strong sense of the continuity of poetic tradition, his glorification of alcoholic beverages and, indeed, frank celebration of drunkenness , his use of persona, the fantastic extremes of some of his imagery, his mastery of formal poetic rules—and his ability to combine all of these with a seemingly effortless virtuosity in order to produce inimitable poetry.
Other themes in Li's poetry, noted especially in the 20th century, are sympathy for the common folks and antipathy towards needless wars even when conducted by the emperor himself. Li Bai had a strong sense of himself as being part of a poetic tradition. The "genius" of Li Bai, says one recent account, "lies at once in his total command of the literary tradition before him and his ingenuity in bending without breaking it to discover a uniquely personal idiom A more general appreciation for history, is shown on the part of Li Bai in his poems of the huaigu genre,  or meditations on the past, wherein following "one of the perennial themes of Chinese poetry", "the poet contemplates the ruins of past glory".
John C. Wu observed that "while some may have drunk more wine than Li [Bai], no-one has written more poems about wine. James J. Y Liu comments that zui in poetry "does not mean quite the same thing as 'drunk', 'intoxicated', or 'inebriated', but rather means being mentally carried away from one's normal preoccupations Arthur Waley  translated it as follows:. I will not spoil it by any labour or care. The Spring wind was telling the mango-bird.
An important characteristic of Li Bai's poetry "is the fantasy and note of childlike wonder and playfulness that pervade so much of it".
The critic James J. This may seem sentimental to Western readers, but one should remember the vastness of China, the difficulties of communication Liu gives as a prime example Li's poem " A Quiet Night Thought " also translated as "Contemplating Moonlight" , which is often learned by schoolchildren in China. In a mere 20 words, the poem uses the vivid moonlight and frost imagery to convey the feeling of homesickness. There are several editions of the poem. This is translated [ by whom?
Lift my head and see the moon Lower my head and pine for home. This song is among the first classical songs that are taught to children in China, often by their parents. A music sheet book of its Chinese version exists. Li Bai also wrote a number of poems from various viewpoints, including the personae of women.
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For example, he wrote several poems in the Zi Ye , or "Lady Midnight" style , as well as Han folk-ballad style poems. Li Bai is well known for the technical virtuosity of his poetry and the mastery of his verses.
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In theme and content also, his poetry is notable less for the new elements it introduces than for the skill with which he brightens the old ones. Burton Watson comments on Li Bai's famous poem, which he translates "Bring the Wine": "like so much of Li [Bai]'s work, it has a grace and effortless dignity that somehow make it more compelling than earlier treatment of the same.
Li Bai's yuefu poems have been called the greatest of all time by Ming-dynasty scholar and writer Hu Yinglin. Li Bai especially excelled in the Gushi form, or "old style" poems, a type of poetry allowing a great deal of freedom in terms of the form and content of the work. Shu is a poetic term for Sichuan, the destination of refuge that Emperor Xuanzong considered fleeing to escape the approaching forces of the rebel General An Lushan. Watson comments that, this poem, "employs lines that range in length from four to eleven characters, the form of the lines suggesting by their irregularity the jagged peaks and bumpy mountain roads of Sichuan depicted in the poem.
Li Bai was also noted as a master of the Jueju , or cut-verse. Watson notes, however, that his poem "Seeing a Friend Off" was "unusual in that it violates the rule that the two middle couplets Li Bai's poetry was immensely influential in his own time, as well as for subsequent generations in China. From early on, he was paired with Du Fu. The recent scholar Paula Varsano observes that "in the literary imagination they were, and remain, the two greatest poets of the Tang—or even of China".
Yet she notes the persistence of "what we can rightly call the 'Li-Du debate', the terms of which became so deeply ingrained in the critical discourse surrounding these two poets that almost any characterization of the one implicitly critiqued the other". This influence continues even today. She took the fantasy of her idyllic summers and her readings and blended them with the pragmatism of the scientific discipline she received from her father.
One is the scientific view. The other is the magic view. One of her teenage illustrations was, in fact, used as a Horn Book Christmas card. Upon graduating from high school, Willard studied in the honors English program at the University of Michigan. During her undergraduate years, she wrote and illustrated a children's book for the student literary magazine. Graduating in , she earned a master's degree at Stanford University with a thesis on medieval folk songs, and then went on to complete a doctorate at the University of Michigan.
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Thereafter she took a position at Vassar College, teaching creative writing. Married in to the photographer Eric Lindbloom, she published her first collection of adult poetry, In His Country: Poems, in Initially, Willard published only adult works—poetry, short stories, and criticism.
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