Chinese poet (701-762). He was born in the Szechwan (or Sichuan) region of China. Though he was educated, he never attempted the examinations for Imperial service, choosing instead to leave his family's home at the age of 19 to live with a Taoist hermit. He spent the rest of his life wandering across China. He married several times, but never had a home of his own--he either lived with his wives' families or claimed hospitality from other families named Li.

He fancied himself a knight errant in his youth. He began showing his poetry to officials, hoping to gain employment as a secretary, but his love of wine worked against him--potential employers feared he'd be unreliable or would reveal their secrets while drunk.

In 742, he visited the capital, Ch'ang-an, where he was briefly favored by the Emperor. He also established friendships with several other poets--together, they became known as the Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup. He resumed his travels a couple of years later and renewed his interests in Taoism and alchemy. He fell under suspicion of treason after joining an expedition to South China led by a former prince and plotter against the Emperor, but was released in a general amnesty in 758. He lived out the rest of his life doing the two things he enjoyed most--drinking and writing poems.

Li Po's verse praised nature, commemorated old friends, and often dipped into whimsical fantasies--from his poem "Alone and Drinking Under the Moon": "Amongst the flowers I am alone with my pot of wine drinking by myself; then lifting my cup I asked the moon to drink with me..."

Research from GURPS Who's Who 2, compiled by Phil Masters, "Li Po" by William H. Stoddard, pp. 26-27. Other assistance from interrobang.