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Li Bai

Li Po (701-762), perhaps the greatest Chinese poet of pre-modern times. It is generally agreed that he and Du Fu raised the poetry form to its highest level of power and expressiveness; later poets at times approached but never surpassed them. Li Po's distinction lies in the fact that he brought an unparalleled grace and eloquence to his treament of the traditional themes, a flow and grandeur that lift his work far above of mere immitation of the past. Another characteristic of his poetry is the air of playfulness, hyperbole and outright fantasy that infuses much of it. Li Po grew up in Szechwan in western China and later traveled extensively in the eastern and central regions. Around 742 he gained recognition from emperor Hsuan-tsung (Xuan Zong) and was appointed to a post in the Hanlin Academy, but a few years later he was exiled from the capital as a result of slanders. He fled south at the time of the rebellion in 755 and entered the service of Prince Yung. The Prince's downfall involved Li Po in a second exile, though he was eventually pardoned and resumed his life of wandering.

--from the Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry