Bair Jiuyih (772-846), also spelled Bai Juyi, Po Chü-i, and so forth, was one of the major poet
s of China
's Tang dynasty
. His voice is often intensely personal, but his style
is generally much easier to read than that of other great Tang poets with a personal voice, such as Duh Fuu and Menq Jiau. In fact, it is said that Bair read much of his new poetry aloud to an illiterate
serving woman in his employ, and if there was anything she could not understand he would immediately rewrite the line in question. It is not surprising that he left a large body of yuehfuu poems - works in folksong
style embodying social criticism
and taking the voice of the common people.
Bair's writings were greatly influenced by his Buddhist beliefs, and many of his poems describe the place of meditation in his life and his hope of attaining enlightenment. His name means "dwell in change", and is an allusion to the Book of Changes.
Two of the finest translators of Chinese poetry into English have worked extensively on Bair Jiuyih: Arthur Waley and Burton Watson.
A poem of his that I have posted on E2 is "Reclining Against a Tea-Table".