Po Chn-I (772-846 C. E.) received a classical education in China and held a variety of governmental positions including advisor to the emperor. In this first edition of his poems to appear in the West, translator David Hinton characterizes his style as "a relaxed rambling, open to all thought and experience, whether petty or profound."

Following the death of his mother, Po Chn-I lived for three years as a recluse. Many of his poems celebrate the Buddhist practice of idleness, which he saw as a state of serenity and quietness. Po Chn-I was also a devotee of Chuang Tzu and Lao Tzu, claiming that no one's company could rival theirs.

The selected poems of this Chinese seer are very eclectic, embracing a variety of experiences and moods. Whether writing about the loss of his daughter to death when she was three years old or about his friendship with two stones, Po Chn-I is lyrical. In "Body" he reveals the depth of his Buddhist perspective when he says of his flesh, "Done adoring it, done loathing it: / so we begin boundless and free."