Li Po (A.D. 701-762), a distant relative of Chinese royals and sometime follower of Taoist principles, supposedly drowned in a lake while drunkenly trying to grasp the reflection of the moon in its waters.
He was a wide-eyed, heavy drinking romantic, and legend has it that he was granted all the wine he wanted by royal decree.
The truth is, because he is China’s most honored poet, much of what he did has now been romanticized and much of what is known about him is only guesswork.
We do know that Li Po went off twice to Taoist monastaries, spent much of his time simply wandering about writing poetry on nature and wine, although he really wanted a job in the royal court, and several times got caught up in political intrigues.
At one point, he had charges brought against him for aligning himself with the wrong prince in a power struggle, but he managed to have the charges dropped after a few years.
Many of Li Po’s wandering sprees were preceded by official banishments for being too close to this or that segment of the royal family.
Reliable sources suggest that his work wasn’t fully appreciated until after his death and that no royal decree about wine or anything else would have been given while he was living.
According to some historians, Li Po really died in seclusion at a friend’s house at the age of 61.