The T'ang dynasty was the great age of Chinese poetry, and Po Ch-i (772--846) was one of that era's most prolific major poets. His appealing style, marked by deliberate simplicity, won him wide popularity among the Chinese public at large and made him a favorite with readers in Korea and Japan as well. From Po Ch-i's well-preserved corpus -- personally compiled and arranged by the poet himself in an edition of seventy-five chapters -- the esteemed translator Burton Watson has chosen 128 poems and one short prose piece that exemplify the earthy grace and deceptive simplicity of this master poet.
For Po Ch-i, writing poetry was a way to expose the ills of society and an autobiographical medium to record daily activities, as well as a source of deep personal delight and satisfaction -- constituting, along with wine and song, one of the chief joys of existence. Whether exposing the gluttony of arrogant palace attendants during a famine; describing the delights of drunkenly chanting new poems under the autumn moon; depicting the peaceful equanimity that comes with old age; or marveling at cool Zen repose during a heat wave... these masterfully translated poems shine with a precisely crafted artlessness that conveys the subtle delights of Chinese poetry.