Once upon a time, more than a thousand years ago, there lived a poet in China named Bai Juyi (sometimes called Po Chu-I). Unlike most poets, however, Bai wasn’t just a poet: he was also a politician, a scholar-bureaucrat tasked with helping to guide China through a moment of immense social, military, and economic crisis. Did he succeed in this endeavor? No. He failed dramatically. But his and his country’s failure gave the world some of the most honest, most efficiently beautiful poetry ever written about what it means to try and live a good and decent life in a time of futility and societal collapse. As always your host is Bryant Davis. If you’d like to contact Bryant, you can reach him at email@example.com or find him aimlessly tweeting at @vainlydrabsatan.