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Classic Haiku: The Greatest Japanese Poetry from Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki, and Their Followers

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Poetry aficionados will appreciate this beautifully designed and illustrated collection of 200 haiku by the four most celebrated Japanese poets of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries: Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki, who modernized the form and coined the very term haiku. Enhancing their work are four seasonally-themed groups of verse, many written by Basho’s students and ass Poetry aficionados will appreciate this beautifully designed and illustrated collection of 200 haiku by the four most celebrated Japanese poets of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries: Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki, who modernized the form and coined the very term haiku. Enhancing their work are four seasonally-themed groups of verse, many written by Basho’s students and associates. The translation is thoroughly readable and contemporary, and the images evocative. An enlightening introduction offers biographical information on the featured poets, background on the nature of haiku and its development within the Japanese poetic tradition, and a short account of the Buddhist practice to which most of the writers were connected.


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Poetry aficionados will appreciate this beautifully designed and illustrated collection of 200 haiku by the four most celebrated Japanese poets of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries: Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki, who modernized the form and coined the very term haiku. Enhancing their work are four seasonally-themed groups of verse, many written by Basho’s students and ass Poetry aficionados will appreciate this beautifully designed and illustrated collection of 200 haiku by the four most celebrated Japanese poets of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries: Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki, who modernized the form and coined the very term haiku. Enhancing their work are four seasonally-themed groups of verse, many written by Basho’s students and associates. The translation is thoroughly readable and contemporary, and the images evocative. An enlightening introduction offers biographical information on the featured poets, background on the nature of haiku and its development within the Japanese poetic tradition, and a short account of the Buddhist practice to which most of the writers were connected.

30 review for Classic Haiku: The Greatest Japanese Poetry from Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki, and Their Followers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Khashayar Mohammadi

    First, let me make it clear, I dislike the book not because of its content, but because of stupid technical issues I had with it. Haikus are soothing, minimalistic and thought provoking; its their nature to be so. However, the book utterly destroys the serenity of the poetry by displaying the poems in black text super-imposed on Crimson sheets of paper. Elsewhere there are white sheets that have RED lines of poetry written on top. I can't be alone in thinking that the Red color's highly stimulat First, let me make it clear, I dislike the book not because of its content, but because of stupid technical issues I had with it. Haikus are soothing, minimalistic and thought provoking; its their nature to be so. However, the book utterly destroys the serenity of the poetry by displaying the poems in black text super-imposed on Crimson sheets of paper. Elsewhere there are white sheets that have RED lines of poetry written on top. I can't be alone in thinking that the Red color's highly stimulating quality is pretty much antithetical to the serenity and elegance of the Haiku. All that aside, the poetry is accompanied by black and white pictures of nature, none of which truly fit. Overall the Poetry included is great, but it has been betrayed by the book's ridiculous format

  2. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    4.5 stars. Per the introduction, “Haiku are short, brilliantly vivid poems containing visually complete descriptions of moments in a poet’s experience. In the space of their original 17 Japanese syllable, haiku express worlds of profound emotional and philosophical insight. Simple on the surface, yet fascinatingly complex on close study, haiku have universal appeal, and the number of languages into which they have been translated testify to this.” This book explores the history, development, and 4.5 stars. Per the introduction, “Haiku are short, brilliantly vivid poems containing visually complete descriptions of moments in a poet’s experience. In the space of their original 17 Japanese syllable, haiku express worlds of profound emotional and philosophical insight. Simple on the surface, yet fascinatingly complex on close study, haiku have universal appeal, and the number of languages into which they have been translated testify to this.” This book explores the history, development, and character of the haiku with its “focus on fleeting impressions of passing, momentary experience.” The poetry appreciates nature, seasonal changes, life transitions, and feelings of love and loss with a comic twist. This book showcases four of the famous and their followers: Matsuo Bashō (c.1644 - 94), who is considered the greatest master of haiku; Yosa Buson (1716 - 83), who brought a visual aspect by incorporating haiku with painting; the beloved Kobayashi Issa (1762 - 1826); and Masaoko Shiki (1867 - 1902), whose scholarly and journalistic work championed and criticized haiku works. Their followers’s poems are featured in a seasonal interlude. Gorgeous black and white photos of nature are interspersed throughout. To whet your appetite, here are a few of my favorite selections: Bashō: Just butterflies and sunlight in the whole empty meadow. Autumn wind. The mulberry branch lies sadly broken. Buson: Wading through a stream in summer, carrying my sandals. How delightful! The bite of my axe. Sudden revelation: there’s life in this tree! Issa: How beautiful the sky is when a lark has been singing. Little snail, slowly, slowly, climbs Mount Fuji. Shiki: Far away and high above the trees fireworks are exploding. After I’m dead, tell people I was a persimmon eater who also loved haiku. Their followers A few of my favorite selections: Kaikyo: In spite of the cold, winter peonies, naked and leafless, are in flower. Bonchō: Summer rain, In just one night my razor has rusted over. This is a beautiful selection and introduction to haiku.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Ladino

    Es tan difícil que llegue algo así a una biblioteca pública perdida al fin del mundo que esta vez dejaré de lado lo quisquillosa y no me quejaré de que la letra es muy pequeña (lo es) o que el papel es muy brilloso (sí que lo es), ni nada de esas pequeñeces que puedo obviar por el bien mayor. Lo que más me agradó fue la introducción de los haikus con una mini biografía de los poetas más reconocidos de Japón. Debo decir inmediatamente que me enamoré de Buson, me encantó Issa y que me reconocí en B Es tan difícil que llegue algo así a una biblioteca pública perdida al fin del mundo que esta vez dejaré de lado lo quisquillosa y no me quejaré de que la letra es muy pequeña (lo es) o que el papel es muy brilloso (sí que lo es), ni nada de esas pequeñeces que puedo obviar por el bien mayor. Lo que más me agradó fue la introducción de los haikus con una mini biografía de los poetas más reconocidos de Japón. Debo decir inmediatamente que me enamoré de Buson, me encantó Issa y que me reconocí en Basho. Para no olvidar El amor por la belleza natural se halla presente en gran parte de la literatura japonesa antigua, un amor inspirado en parte por la religión sintoísta y su énfasis en las presencias espirituales que habitan en los paisajes. La tradición de la expresión personas es inherente a la poesía japonesa. Los autores del Japón medieval (siglos VIII – XIII, aproximadamente) produjeron abundante poesía amorosa. La tristeza inherente del estado incompleto y transitorio de la vida es un tema recurrente en los grandes poetas de haikus. Aprecio por la naturaleza, los cambios estacionales, la transitoriedad de la vida, los sentimientos de amor y pérdida: éstos son algunos de los grandes temas de la poesía japonesa lo largo de su dilatada historia. Existían dos tipos principales de waka: una forma larga (choka) y una breve, que más tarde pasaría a ser conocida como tanka. Esta última se convirtió en la modalidad poética más popular en Japón, y el haiku deriva de ella. La mayoría de los waka o tanka eran obra de la elite cultivada. La caligrafía, la habilidad musical, el conocimiento de poemas clásicos y la capacidad de componer tanka originales eran talentos muy apreciados entre la aristocracia. La voz del pueblo, no obstante, nunca se silenció del todo. Un enfoque todavía más radical se dio en la llamada escuela Danrin, con sede en Osaka, en la década de 1670. El profesor Soin animó a sus alumnos a escribir de manera espontánea, a romper las reglas incluyendo silabas de más, así como a escribir versos unidos mediante la improvisación. El término haiku, que hace referencia a un poema hokku autónomo, fue una invención de Shiki, un poeta de finales del siglo XIX. Otro componente obligado del haiku era una palabra relativa a las estaciones (kigo). La primavera, con su aire de optimismo, se sugería con cerezos en flor y con determinadas aves; para el luminoso pero agotador verano se empleaban palabras referentes a flores y árboles; la melancolía del otoño se expresaba con imágenes solitarias, con una luna llena, viento y hojas caídas; mientras que las palabras relacionadas con el frío, como nieve, aludían a la dura experiencia del invierno. Un admirador le regaló un platanero (basho), de donde tomó su nombre tras probar con varios seudónimos. Se identificaba con aquella especie que no daba fruto: “Me encanta su inutilidad”, escribió. “Me siento bajo su copa y experimento el viento y la lluvia que nos azotan”. Como hombre solitario que vivió únicamente para su escritura, necesitó de la amistad y el apoyo de los demás. Sin embargo, esa soledad fue quizá la que le permitió alcanzar estados inalcanzables para personas más sociables. Cuando salgo siento que estoy interfiriendo en la vida de los demás. Ahora debo imitar a los sabios chinos que se retiraban. La ausencia de amigos será mi compañera. “Mantente separado de lo cotidiano, pero utiliza lo cotidiano”. Parte de la belleza de este mundo, sugiere Issa, radica en su imperfección. Haikus favoritos El comiendo de todo arte: una canción de la siembra del arroz en una región remota. (Basho) A pesar del frío, las peonías, desnudas y sin hojas, florecen. (Sharai) Envidio al gato: ¡con qué facilidad olvida el dolor y el anhelo del amor! (Etsujin) Primavera. Los días transcurren lentos. ¡Qué lejos queda el pasado! (Buson) ¿Era un zorro o un príncipe disfrazado lo que vi entre la bruma esta tarde? (Buson) Ciruelos blancos ¿Quién viene del pasado a plantarse ante mi puerta? (Buson) El espantapájaros solitario vigila las flores sin arco ni flechas. (Buson) Tarde de otoño. Ella limpia un espejo con la manga. (Buson) Tiempo de siega del trigo. el rostro solitario De esa roca. (Buson) Año Nuevo. Sin embargo, mi cabaña ruinosa sigue siendo la misma. (Issa) El gato duerme. Se levanta. Da un gran bostezo. ¡Y se marcha a hacer el amor! (Issa) Sólo un hombre y una mosca en este enorme cuarto de invitados. (Issa) No lloréis, insectos. El amor implica separación, incluso para los astros. (Issa) A nadie le importó que la belleza de las flores se marchitase. Y yo me vi envejeciendo en el mundo mientras caía la lluvia. (Komachi) Huyeron y se casaron. Por fin pueden cambiarse de ropa. (Buson)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lauringui

    Este libro es más bien una linda edición de una brevísima introducción al mundo de los haikus. Los haikus, como la literatura japonesa, están llenos de escenas cotidianas y funcionan casi como microrrelatos. No hay metáforas intencionales ni grandes figuras retóricas. Lo más lindo de este libro es la edición y la introducción con la explicación. Creo que el haiku traducido, alejado del alfabeto japonés original pierde mucho su magia. La idea de la ambigüedad de la construcción de cada símbolo, l Este libro es más bien una linda edición de una brevísima introducción al mundo de los haikus. Los haikus, como la literatura japonesa, están llenos de escenas cotidianas y funcionan casi como microrrelatos. No hay metáforas intencionales ni grandes figuras retóricas. Lo más lindo de este libro es la edición y la introducción con la explicación. Creo que el haiku traducido, alejado del alfabeto japonés original pierde mucho su magia. La idea de la ambigüedad de la construcción de cada símbolo, la manera en la que se construyen las palabras (con símbolos que significan cosas distintas) es algo que en español se pierde por completo y creo que ahí vive la esencia del haiku. Sin embargo disfruté mucho su lectura. Me hubiera gustado otra tipografía, pero eso ya es muy personal. No sé si lo recomiendo, pero es lindo lucirlo en la biblioteca.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn

    I like how they give you more information on how haiku was developed and the meaning behind the use of imagery at the beginning - it added to the appreciation of the haiku. I also liked how the works were paired with nice photography. Lovely collection!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Femke Zwiep

    Fijne introductie met toegankelijke informatie die wel degelijk een beetje de diepte in gaat. Ook goed zijn de lijnen tussen de behandelde dichters die duidelijk weergegeven worden. Ik vond de vormgeving echter teleurstellend: sommige foto's lijken een beetje op van die typische stock-foto's. Daardoor komen sommige Haiku's niet tot hun recht (tenzij je heel goed je best doet om de foto's te negeren maar ja, dan hadden ze er net zo goed NIET in kunnen staan, toch?! toch?!!). Fijne introductie met toegankelijke informatie die wel degelijk een beetje de diepte in gaat. Ook goed zijn de lijnen tussen de behandelde dichters die duidelijk weergegeven worden. Ik vond de vormgeving echter teleurstellend: sommige foto's lijken een beetje op van die typische stock-foto's. Daardoor komen sommige Haiku's niet tot hun recht (tenzij je heel goed je best doet om de foto's te negeren maar ja, dan hadden ze er net zo goed NIET in kunnen staan, toch?! toch?!!).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I love how haiku can perfectly place you in a moment. Some of my favorites: Plovers on the beach. The wolf's tracks are crossed out and rewritten. --Fumikuni Little snail, slowly, slowly, climbs Mount Fuji. --Issa Those distant mountains reflected in the eye-jewels of the dragonfly. --Issa Don't cry, little insects! Love involves parting. It even happens among the stars. --Issa After I'm dead, tell people I was a persimmon eater who also loved haiku. --Shiki Poets moved by the monkey's cry: what would you feel for I love how haiku can perfectly place you in a moment. Some of my favorites: Plovers on the beach. The wolf's tracks are crossed out and rewritten. --Fumikuni Little snail, slowly, slowly, climbs Mount Fuji. --Issa Those distant mountains reflected in the eye-jewels of the dragonfly. --Issa Don't cry, little insects! Love involves parting. It even happens among the stars. --Issa After I'm dead, tell people I was a persimmon eater who also loved haiku. --Shiki Poets moved by the monkey's cry: what would you feel for this abandoned child in the cold wind this autumn? --Basho Wake up, butterfly! Come on -- wake up! I want friendship. --Bashō

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This is a nice bedside book, a book to pick up and enjoy in small doses. It begins with an introduction that includes a history of Japanese haiku and biographies of Matsuo Bashō, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and Masaoka Shiki. And because the publisher probably thought that a book of haiku poems alone might not sell well, it is loade with landscape photographs by John Cleare. Nice photos, but distracting. My favorite haiku is from Buson. A paper kite flies Just where it was In yesterday’s sky.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rain Misoa

    The best of Japanese poetry~ To read my full review, click here. The best of Japanese poetry~ To read my full review, click here.

  10. 5 out of 5

    C.B. Wentworth

    This is a beautiful little book that collects well-known as well as more obscure classic haiku. Paired with lovely photography this is a nice and relaxing read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Prasidh Ramson

    I've always been intrigued by this ancient Japanese form of poetry. The simplistic use of 17 syllables in 3 lines where each line has a 5-7-5 syllable count, with lines/ideas linked by very visual words, thoughts and emotions. This book starts with a brief background to the evolution of this poetry firm and then 4 of its most famous originators (Bashō, Busson, Issa and Shiki). It then provides examples of their most famous works. One can see the evolution in haiku writing style from one era to t I've always been intrigued by this ancient Japanese form of poetry. The simplistic use of 17 syllables in 3 lines where each line has a 5-7-5 syllable count, with lines/ideas linked by very visual words, thoughts and emotions. This book starts with a brief background to the evolution of this poetry firm and then 4 of its most famous originators (Bashō, Busson, Issa and Shiki). It then provides examples of their most famous works. One can see the evolution in haiku writing style from one era to the other - each no less profound than the other. The short, sparse verses need to be savoured more than just read... Laid waste on this journey. 
My dreams wander scattered 
through desolate fields. (Bashō) Don’t cry, little insects!
Love involves parting. 
It even happens amongst the stars. (Issa) In terms of presentation, I enjoyed the haikus written in different fonts, the glossy pages, still photography of landscapes, the ribbon bookmark - it would make a great gift or coffee table book. #MustRead

  12. 4 out of 5

    Angela Gyurko

    Read as part of an ongoing haiku workshop with friends, I was struck by how many words the translator used. One member of our group is comfortable enough with Japanese to read haiku in the original language, and reading this, along with other translations, made for good discussion of the nuance of intent, language, and word choice. I suspect Lowenstein did not put together this particular collection with the intent of having his book form the basis of scholarly discussion among a group of writers Read as part of an ongoing haiku workshop with friends, I was struck by how many words the translator used. One member of our group is comfortable enough with Japanese to read haiku in the original language, and reading this, along with other translations, made for good discussion of the nuance of intent, language, and word choice. I suspect Lowenstein did not put together this particular collection with the intent of having his book form the basis of scholarly discussion among a group of writers, but it does service that intent well enough, with ample examples of all the "rules" of haiku, as well as how to break them and remain true to the haiku form, all in a book pretty enough to leave out for children to look at the pictures and ponder the perfection of haiku.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abel

    Este es un libro que debería estar en todas las estanterías de los amantes de la cultura japonesa y de la poesía universal. Con un diseño minimalista pero detallado y armónico (salvo las páginas de fondo rojo y letras negras que no permiten contraste suficiente al leer), es una obra que tiene más de ensayo informativo que de antología. Pero esta misma introducción se agradece ya que, al menos en mi caso, desconocía los datos que se mencionan de los haikus en extenso. Y este libro me ha dado mucha Este es un libro que debería estar en todas las estanterías de los amantes de la cultura japonesa y de la poesía universal. Con un diseño minimalista pero detallado y armónico (salvo las páginas de fondo rojo y letras negras que no permiten contraste suficiente al leer), es una obra que tiene más de ensayo informativo que de antología. Pero esta misma introducción se agradece ya que, al menos en mi caso, desconocía los datos que se mencionan de los haikus en extenso. Y este libro me ha dado mucha información relevante para darle contexto y profundidad al trabajo de los escritores referidos. Un muy buen producto final, salvo por el detalle técnico mencionado al comienzo.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lady Socióloga

    No soy de leer poesía habitualmente. Pero este libro me llamó. Paseaba por una biblioteca y me lo encontré, a la altura de mis ojos. Lo cogí sin pensar. Me fascina cómo consiguen crear imágenes tan potentes con tan pocas sílabas. Aunque muchos de los haiku no los entiendo o los comprendo, los que sí son aplastantes. Puntos en contra para esta edición, que sólo trae los haiku traducidos al castellano. Lo sé, la versión en japonés antiguo sería ilegible, pero sería precioso verlos caligrafiados. ¿A f No soy de leer poesía habitualmente. Pero este libro me llamó. Paseaba por una biblioteca y me lo encontré, a la altura de mis ojos. Lo cogí sin pensar. Me fascina cómo consiguen crear imágenes tan potentes con tan pocas sílabas. Aunque muchos de los haiku no los entiendo o los comprendo, los que sí son aplastantes. Puntos en contra para esta edición, que sólo trae los haiku traducidos al castellano. Lo sé, la versión en japonés antiguo sería ilegible, pero sería precioso verlos caligrafiados. ¿A favor? Las fotografías que los acompañan, así como la breve introducción al mundo del haiku y a tres de sus máximos exponentes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dan Gobble

    Simply beautiful, thick pages, gorgeous accompanying images, opened by informative bios of key poets from Haiku's formative years. Simply beautiful, thick pages, gorgeous accompanying images, opened by informative bios of key poets from Haiku's formative years.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Martin Shone

    I do like the haiku form with how they take the reader out of their surroundings and into a surreal world of thought.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lost Owl

    Excellent, though I don't care for how thick and slick the pages are. Excellent, though I don't care for how thick and slick the pages are.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura Chan

    I haven't had much interest in poetry on any kind. I picked up this book mostly because I knew it wouldn't take long to read and I could pick it up and put it down. And I was right and wrong. The introduction was very helpful, it gave me a sense of what the haiku were trying to tell me and an idea of what shaped the people who wrote them. Without it I would probably have little appreciation for the haiku in the book. For me, reading haiku needs a mind at peace and rest. I was hurrying through the I haven't had much interest in poetry on any kind. I picked up this book mostly because I knew it wouldn't take long to read and I could pick it up and put it down. And I was right and wrong. The introduction was very helpful, it gave me a sense of what the haiku were trying to tell me and an idea of what shaped the people who wrote them. Without it I would probably have little appreciation for the haiku in the book. For me, reading haiku needs a mind at peace and rest. I was hurrying through the book trying to find a haiku to tell it to my sister and realized that it seemed like I was mentally butchering the haiku as I rushed through them. So if you read this, take your time and let the images they call up form in your mind.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    I want to like haiku more than I do. Some of the poems in this collection did have a certain depth, a turn of phrase that I found deeply satisfying. But most of them simply didn't speak to me. The introduction to the book gives a little background on the history of haiku and the poets included in the volume. I would have liked more information on how the particular poems were selected and arranged. The book is visually stunning, with original nature photography serving as a background to the poet I want to like haiku more than I do. Some of the poems in this collection did have a certain depth, a turn of phrase that I found deeply satisfying. But most of them simply didn't speak to me. The introduction to the book gives a little background on the history of haiku and the poets included in the volume. I would have liked more information on how the particular poems were selected and arranged. The book is visually stunning, with original nature photography serving as a background to the poetry. One of my favorites: "In my humble view hell must be an autumn evening." -Basho I've never liked fall.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jesús Cardeña Morales

    Empecé el libro con muchas expectativas porque había oído hablar de la belleza de estas composiciones, pero salvo algunos, la mayoría me han dejado bastante frío. Sin lugar a dudas, al menos por lo que he leído en este libro, me quedo con la poesía occidental. La selección de fotografías que acompañan los poemas es lo mejor del libro, y la edición es muy buena.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Philip Gordon

    The amount of haiku in this collection was somewhat sparse, tho powerful. I enjoyed the informative section on the life of each of the selected poets, as well as the art of haiku in general. I would have liked to seen more work from each of the selected poets represented--as is, some of Basho's best poems (even ones mentioned elsewhere in the preface) were not included in the body proper. The amount of haiku in this collection was somewhat sparse, tho powerful. I enjoyed the informative section on the life of each of the selected poets, as well as the art of haiku in general. I would have liked to seen more work from each of the selected poets represented--as is, some of Basho's best poems (even ones mentioned elsewhere in the preface) were not included in the body proper.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    Just as the title suggests, this is a classic that every Haiku lover should own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shashi

    Beautiful

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andy Luke

    Useful introduction to haiku and four masters in fifty pages, with a hundred illustrated examples by some elegant nature photography.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessie B.

    A good collection of Haiku accompanied with photographs.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sasha Moore

    It was a quick read. My favorite haiku in this book is by Issa: How beautiful to see the Milky Way through a hole in the window.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Helpful, concise intro to the four poets, and the poetry itself is wonderful!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Teana74

    love this book! simply the best. Worth buying.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andres

    Hermoso libro de poesía antigua japonesa. Los haikus vienen acompañados de increíbles fotografías, lo que transforma a este libro en un objeto digno de leer y ver.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Antunes

    Un acercamiento a los mayores representantes de la poesía haiku, poesía hermosa que nos enseña a contemplar vida y naturaleza como un solo ente

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