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The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa (Essential Poets) Paperback – August 1, 1995
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The editor, Robert Hass, United States poet laureate, is the author of several books of poetry including Human Wishes as well as a book of criticism Twentieth Century Pleasures, for which he received The National Book Critics Circle Award. The book is one of the larger series of poetry collections, Essential Poets Series published by Ecco Press.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
of haiku by Basho, Buson and Issa.
The translations capture both the distinctive styles of
the masters as well as the oft-mentioned "aha moment".
I have only to turn a few pages to feel inspiration,
motivation, exaltation and profound gratitude for these
brief jewels. How they transcend time and place!
Hass helpfully provides a wonderful introduction and
notes for these exquisitely crafted haiku. A recommended
book for the novice and advanced reader/writer/lover
The book is divided into four sections, one on each master, followed by a section containing Basho's thoughts on haiku in general. Each of the first three sections starts with a brief but good introduction to the master followed by the translations of his haiku. Each section concludes with other pieces of writing (prose and haiku) by the poet. This helps to give a picture of the person behind the poem and some idea of the life and times that the poet lived in. Not being familiar with life in Japan from a few centuries ago, I found this very helpful in getting a better understanding of the context in which the poems are set.
There are notes at the back which explain some of the nuances and anything significant one has to know about certain Haiku. It helps to keep this in mind when reading the haiku. The fourth section in the book "Basho on Poetry" is a joy to read, and captures the spirit of Haiku. Each sentence here is worth preserving! There is also a list of books for further reading which I found useful.
Overall, this book is a good addition to the library, whether one is interested in writing Haiku or not.
These beautiful three line poems, located in Nature with their implied Buddhist reflection are each a meditation, a centering, and a crystalline moment of realization. Reading them has a way of bringing about calm and peace within the reader. The symbolism of the seasons and the Japanese habit of mind blend together in these poems to create an alchemy of reflection that is unsurpassed in literature. The exquisite skill of these three masters make their subject matter seem completely organic, without artifice. Each poem contains a unique "Ah!" experience because they pierce directly to the soul, activating the human capacity for seeing with a still mind and an observing heart.
If you are new to haiku this is a wonderful compendium of the best of the genre. If you are already a lover of haiku this book is a delightfully compact, essential package, a real treasure you are sure to enjoy again and again.
For example, the famous frog Haiku from Basho is listed in the aforementioned title:
mizu no oto
and then translated to the side:
a frog leaps in
I really believe that every true Haiku collection should include the Romaji so that Westerners can say the poem in the native Japanese. Much like Baudelaire collections that include the French and English both (or Pablo Neruda in both English and Spanish). There is something magical about reading aloud Haiku in Japanese, even if you don't understand the words.
The only other omission I felt was the exclusion of Masaoka Shiki. There are four great Haiku authors (according to most experts and to the Japanese in general), and Shiki is actually my personal favorite of the great four. Basho is understandably the most prominent, but I have read several other texts on Haiku that list Buson, Issa, and Shiki as the next greatest.
This is a thorough and well researched text focused on the three major classical Haiku authors: Basho, Buson, and Issa. There are many included Haiku from each of these celebrated authors.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's the part of Japanese Culture and Eastern Mediation as I really know about Zen Buddism in Japan. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A small collection of haikus from the three greats: Basho, Buson, Issa. A great book for haiku lovers. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Paul
I bought this book 20 years ago, very shortly after it was first published. Before and since, I've read other collections of Japanese haiku translated into English. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Dale 3433
The selection of haiku's are great as it covers some by the greatest poets such as Li Bao, Wang Wei, Basho and more. It also has some contemporary ones inspired by them as well. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Review Guy