The period 713-756AD was when the Tang Dynasty reached its zenith. It was also China's golden age of poetry. Then it is no surprise the era produced China's two greatest poets, To Pu (íZíZíZíZíZíZ) and Li Bai (íZíZíZíZíZíZ). Li Bai's life time (701-762AD) neatly framed this period.
He was born in the steppe of Central Asia to a Chinese family whose ancestors migrated there from China to escape the turmoil there when Lee Yun (íZíZíZŠĚíZ) and his sons were busy establishing the Tang Dynasty (íZíZíZíZíZíZ). In 705 the family returned to China and settled in Szechuen (íZíZíZňĚíZ).
In 725, twenty-five year old Li Bai left Szechuen in search of opportunities to secure a high position in the royal court and be part of the governing elite. The most common route was to take the royal exam (šžíZíZíZíZ). However, all participants in the royal exam must give information on their previous three generations. The fact that Li Bai never did participated in the examination combined with his place of birth had many later day scholars speculating he might be the descendent of one of Lee Yun's sons who lost the famous bloody struggle for the dragon throne (íZíZíZŠşŽÚíZíZń╣íZŔ«íZ). Information on his ancestors might revealed this linkage and subjected him and his family to prosecution if not outright execution.
Li Bai chose another route. He spent years travelling in China, befriended many renown scholars and generally made a name for himself. In 743 he was appointed to be a member of Yu-lin (š┐░ŠíZíZńżíZňąíZ). However, Yu-lin was far from the seat of power. It was nothing more than the emperor's personal poets society. Needless to say he was disappointed. Couple this with his tendency to offend those in power, his days in Ch'ang-an (íZíZĚňíZíZ) were numbered. He finally left in 746 and resumed his travel.
During the An-Si Rebellion (ň«íZíZíZ▓ńíZíZń║íZ), he saw what he considered as an opportunity to realize his goal of ascending the seat of power. Thus in 755 he joined the force led by the emperor's 16th son, Prince Lin (Š░ŞšíZíZíZíZíZ). However, one of Lin's brother Hun (íZíZíZń║íZ) had already ascended the throne. In the ensuing battles, Lin was defeated, captured and executed. Because of the association Li Bai was to be executed as well but for the great efforts of Kwok Tze-yi (íZíZşňíZíZíZíZíZ) who is credited with restoring the Tang Dynasty by leading the battle against the An-SI rebels. Instead he was exiled to Yelon (ňĄíZíZíZíZ), present day Guizhou (Ŕ▓┤ňíZíZŠííZŠóíZšŞíZ). While enroute, the old emperor (íZíZíZíZíZíZíZíZíZ) died and he was pardoned.
In 762 Li Bai died. Some said he died of illness due to his excess drinking over the year. While another said he was drown when in a drunken state he tried to scoop the moon out of the river.