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Names
Chinese: 白居易
Pinyin: Bó Jūyì or Bái Jūyì
Wade-Giles: Po Chü-i or Pai Chü-i
Zì 字: Lètiān 樂天
Hào 號: Xiāngshān Jūshì 香山居士

Zuìyín Xiānshēng 醉吟先生
Shì 謚: Wén 文 (hence referred
to as Bái Wéngōng 白文公)


Bai Juyi ( , 772–846) was a Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty. His poems mostly concern his responsibilities as governor of several small provinces. He is also renowned in Japan, where his name is read Hakkyo'i.

Life

Bai Juyi was born in Xinzhengmarker to a poor but scholarly family. At the age of ten he was sent away from his family to avoid a war that broke out in the north of China, and went to live with relatives in the area known as JiangNan, more specifically XuZhoumarker. He passed the jinshi in 800. His official career was initially successful: he was a member of the Hanlin Academy and Reminder of the Left from 807 until 815, when he was demoted and exiled after remonstrating with the Emperor Xian Zong over the failure to catch the murderer of two high officials. His career resumed when he was made Prefect of Hangzhoumarker (822-824) and then Suzhoumarker (825-827).His grave is situated on Xiangshan, across the Yi Rive from the Longmen cave temples in the vicinity of Luoyangmarker, Henanmarker.

Works

Bai Juyi wrote over 2,800 poems, which he had copied and distributed to ensure their survival. They are notable for their relative accessibility: it is said that he would rewrite any part of a poem if one of his servants was unable to understand it. Two of his most famous works are the long narrative poems The Song of Everlasting Sorrow, which tells the story of Yang Guifei, and The Song of the Pipa Player. Like Du Fu, he had a strong sense of social responsibility and is well-known for his satirical poems, such as The Elderly Charcoal Seller. The accessibility of Bai Juyi's poems made them extremely popular in his lifetime, in both Chinamarker and Japanmarker, and they continue to be read in both countries today.

References

  • Arthur Waley, The Life and Times of Po Chü-I, 772-846 A.D (New York,: Macmillan, 1949). 238p.


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