Image of Chinese poet Bai Juyi.

Bai Juyi

(772 - 846)

Bai Juyi passed the civil-service examination at the age of twenty-eight in 800 and later, while studying diligently for a further test, is said to have permanently damaged his eyesight. In 815 he wrote to a friend that the purpose of composing poetry was first “to save the world” and second “to perfect one’s own character.” Bai was the most prolific Tang dynasty poet, and more than three thousand of Bai’s poems are extant, some of which are quoted at length in the influential eleventh-century Japanese novel by Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji.

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