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WANG WEI (699-761)

DU FU (721-770)

Unconventional Poetic Style

Paul Rouzer :: And unlike many of his contemporaries, who wrote in the so-called regulated verse form, the form that was limited to eight lines, Li Bo continued to write very, very long poems — poems that sort of sprawl all over the place.

In fact, it was this quality of loquaciousness that earned Li Bo a reputation of being a sort of wild man in the eighth century, and made him particularly popular.

Li Bo himself wrote a good deal about drinking, about encountering Daoist immortals, whom he insisted he had met personally, and basically his own activities as a "knight errant" in traditional China where he supposedly went about with a sword in hand righting wrongs throughout the Chinese empire.

Stephen Owen :: But he is popular because precisely of that extravagance. If there is this aspect of Chinese society which is fascinated with good behavior, as in our own society, so also there is a delight in those people who break free or perform the idea of breaking free.

And Li Bai loved to perform that person who did what he pleased, who disdained the conventions of the world, who lay down and got drunk and laid down drunk wherever he felt like it, who snubbed the emperor, who went before the emperor drunk and wrote out his poems quick as a flash, that kind of performative sort of a person we all wish we were in some ways. And so this is part of China too.