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Li Po and Tu Fu: Poems

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  432 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Li Po (AD 701-62) and Tu Fu (AD 712-70) were devoted friends who are traditionally considered to be among China's greatest poets. Li Po, a legendary carouser, was an itinerant poet whose writing, often dream poems or spirit-journeys, soars to sublime heights in its descriptions of natural scenes and powerful emotions. His sheer escapism and joy is balanced by Tu Fu, who ex ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 26th 1973 by Penguin Classics
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Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually I didn't rate the classic poems from considered two Chinese greatest poets. I rated the translation project. I like the 100+ pages introductions before the book showed the first poem. And even then, on poems themselves, the translator added some short descriptions too. I think the lengthy introductions is appropriate for introductory purpose of the poets. Please remember that this book published for the first time on pre-internet era.

There are only 100+ poems on this book, far from comp
Roz  Milner
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cool-poetry
Penguin's compilation of the poetry of Li Po and Tu Fu isn't quite what it appears at first. It collects a healthy sampling of the two poets, but it's only a sampling: each poet is represented by about 50 pages worth of poems, with most of that space taken up with Arthur Cooper's voluminous annotations. And the first half of this book is a lengthy introduction by Cooper, covering not only the basics of these two poets, but is a good primer for Chinese poetry as a whole, ranging from early works ...more
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not a massive fan of poetry in general, but I do love Chinese history. For me, the poems weren't as interesting as the explanation of them. Li Po and Tu Fu were definitely men of their time, as it was common for scholars to try their hand at poetry. And some of their poems are really interesting, painting a picture of both how life was during the Tang Dynasty as well as how differently they each saw the world. Li Po takes a more cynical view of the world, whereas Tu Fu seems to be more flowe ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2017
My interest leans to Li Po more than Tu Fu but contemplating on the period they become renowned poets in China, I could say that Tu Fu's poems are experimental and his style transcends the usual Chinese poetry form (maybe this is the reason why his readers back then tend to misunderstand his craft; hence, dismissing him as queer or challenging the tradition in an unpleasant way) and in it I found a foreign sharpness and beauty.

Introduction and annotations were a big help in understanding the tex
Akemi G.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-fiction
There are two types of people who'd read classic poetry. One, those who simply love poetry for its beauty. Two, those who are interested in classic literature. For the first type, I have no comment; just read what you enjoy. This review is more for the second type, and by extension, those who want to gain better understanding of Asian culture.

Ancient China had huge influence in Asia, including Korea and Japan. Basho mentions Du Fu's poems in The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sk
Zero stars. The only way to appreciate this poetry is by knowing the biographies of the poets and the history of parts of China during their lifetime. For me, this makes it impossible to enjoy the poetry.

There are many footnotes to give you this history, but there are more footnotes than there are lines of poetry!!!

Robert Sheppard


The Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) is considered the "Golden Age" of Chinese poetry and a time of cultural ascendency when Chin
New to Tang poetry? Get this book--it includes a wonderful little selection of Du Fu's and Li Bai's [Li Po's] poems but the real reason to get hold of a copy is its excellent introduction to understanding Tang poetry. The inclusion of the original Chinese and in particular, one full-length Chinese poem that is dissected character-by-character to help explain the richness (and difficulty in translating) Chinese poems into European languages makes this little book invaluable to anyone who wants to ...more
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
turned me on to chinese poetry. the descriptions between the poems can be extremely informative for developing context, but are occasionally problematic. obviously there is only so much I can glean from poetry that is dependent on history and references outside of my knowledge base, but this is an excellent primer for the history of the Tang Dynasty and the lives lived in it.
Biblio Curious
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gotta love a poet who drinks wine... in a boat... and drowns.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
An excellent selected collection of these two poets' work.

Like most good editions of oriental works this has a substantial introduction and comment throughout. It is in-fact a Li Po & Tu Fu reader for those using English. The introduction is amongst the best I've read for any work of any genre. Arthur Cooper really did well covering not only many topics of poetry but language, history and philosophy as well, explaining the workings behind his translations of these poems and providing complete co
Al Maki
Mar 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I like the translations. I also found the introductory essay very helpful. Chinese being a very different language and its poetic tradition being completely distinct from the European, Cooper's explanation of some of the issues is important to understanding the issues. I've owned this book for going on forty years and been through it a number of times. When I was young I believed I should like Li Bai because he was so wild and free, but now that I've been much banged around, I greatly prefer Du ...more
Sep 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Billy by: Jerome David
Chinese Poets are better than many Japanese.

Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The owning of this delightful little book was completely due to the influence of my other wife, Serendipity.
Of course it has poems in it... but to add to the wonder is the analysis of such for those who have not encountered the multi layering and technical skill of Chinese poets. The addition of calligraphy, in a hand which complements the style of poem, as well as an introduction to how the characters are formed and how they evolved, is fascinating.
Both poets, Li Po and Tu Fu, are fascinating:
Tony Blackmore
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: china
The translator Arthur Cooper provides an overview and analysis of individual poems from the Chinese Tang Dynasty poets Li Po and Tu Fu as well as a selection of their poems in English. It's a good introduction for the casual reader who is approaching the subject for the first time.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
5* Introduction that doubles as an overview of Chinese poetry's history and outlines poetic traditions and devices, plus commentary on difficulty in translation.

2* poems - mostly too much lost in translation.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am going to have to reread this, before passing comment.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Top 10 poets to read!
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Not quite this version, but another book of poems by the same.
Aaron Cliff
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The introduction is actually quite informational, and the poetry is still moving despite the translation.
Aug 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: china-and-japan
I got a crash course in Chinese literature and poetry by reading Cao Xueqin "Story of the Stone". I was introduced to a variety of Chinese poets, operas, philosophy, and religious texts by way of reference when various characters in that novel discussed literature or were creating their own poetry. I was amazed at how many references there were to the Tang dynasty, a veritable Chinese golden age. This book is a nice primer on Tang dynasty poetry in general and these two poets specifically. I hav ...more
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
More like a 3.5. You can tell the age of this book (published 1973) due to the tangential references to Chairman Mao and Communism. Also this line from Cooper "(The reader will probably succeed in getting a friendly Chinese waiter to say it [recite Li Po's poem, "Quiet Night Thoughts:], in his own dialect)," is really uncalled for. Cooper's insights and translation makes the text seem more like a chore than really add anything to Li Po or Tu Fu's works.

With that being said, I really enjoyed Tu F
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reading the poetry of Li Po and Tu Fu in English translation (with some poems in Chinese), I am charmed by old poems still intact in memory, but somehow the aura of their time and place had faded into unfamiliarity in this reader.

Some of the poems, forced upon school-age children through rote memorization, remain emotionally and psychologically alien. Li-Tu represented the two sides of Taoism (Yin and Yang), hence these Taoistic overloaded sentiment expressed through ancient figures of speech i
Oct 13, 2008 rated it liked it
A Penguin Classic. It has been on my to read forever and I finally got to it. These poets were devouted friends in China, AD 712 - AD 762. The book covers the lives and times of the poets with many poems. The poems had introductions of each poem of the spiritual, social and aesthetic background surrounding the poet and times. The language was also included including pronuciation of the language. It also included calligraphy.
Samuel Puopolo
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m always sussed out by English translations of Chinese because they seem to leave a lot behind. That said, I can’t read any Chinese language, so this edition is a pretty good way to read the greatest hits of these to essential poets.
Ben Fairchild
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
contains a very interesting introducion with an unusual essay on the primal sound meanings in language.
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
It would be pointless describing or reviewing any poem of Li Po or Tu Fu ! They're simply perfect in their simplicity ... You must read them to know what i mean .
Lawrence Barrow
Feb 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Zen. Classic!

Tang dynasty
plum wine
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Li Bai: the drunkard of Tang poetry

Du Fu: great odes to history and wars and mankind
Jun 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I read the poems of Li Po and Tu Fu in a world literature class, and they were delightful.
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Date of Birth: ca. 701 A.D.
Date of Death: ca. 762 A.D.

This is a Chinese name. The family name is Li.

Li Bai (Li Pai; Chinese: 李白; pinyin: Lǐ Bái; Wade–Giles: Li Pai), also known as Li Bo (or Li Po; pinyin: Lǐ Bó; Wade–Giles: Li Po) was a Chinese poet. He was part of the group of Chinese scholars called the "Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup" in a poem by fellow poet Du Fu. Li Po is often regarded, al

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