su tung-po 1 was the kind of man Li Po would like to have been: a poet who was also a great official, and thus able to play his part in the machinations of government in a way that Li Po could only dream about. Nor was Li Po’s name the ‘Banished Immortal’ a measure of the difference between them. For it was known—at least to those who were learned in such mysteries—that Su Tung-po was also a spirit on loan to the world. A monk once found him asleep on a mountainside above Hangchow and saw on the poet’s naked back seven moles resembling the stars of the Great Bear—a sign of his divinity. And in the early part of the twelfth century ten years after Tung-po had died, a Taoist necromancer caught a glimpse of him in his new role of Minister of Literature to the court of the gods.