Li Po Declines

TTBB, tenor soloist, speaker, harp

Duration: 8 min.

Warren Liu’s poem depicts a modern muser summoning the spirit of the famous poet known as Li Po (Li Bai). However, the apparition who answers is not the eighth-century Chinese man but rather an amalgamation accreted from centuries of popular Western imaginings of him through his poetry. What emerges from these reverberated conceptions is the voice of our own myths of the East rather than that of any ghost. In Liu’s poem, cultural truths dissipate after the rain, leaving an odd nostalgia for what may have never existed.