The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō, Buson, and Issa

Front Cover
Robert Hass
Ecco Press, Oct 15, 2008 - Poetry - 329 pages

American readers have been fascinated, since their exposure to Japanese culture late in the nineteenth century, with the brief Japanese poem called the hokku or haiku. The seventeen-syllable form is rooted in a Japanese tradition of close observation of nature, of making poetry from subtle suggestion. Infused by its great practitioners with the spirit of Zen Buddhism, the haiku has served as an example of the power of direct observation to the first generation of American modernist poets like Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and also as an example of spontaneity and Zen alertness to the new poets of the 1950's.

This definite collection brings together in fresh translations by an American poet the essential poems of the three greatest masters: Matsuo Basho in the seventeenth century; Yosa Buson in the eighteenth century; and Kobayashi Issa in the early nineteenth century. Robert Haas has written a lively and informed introduction, provided brief examples by each poet of their work in the halibun, or poetic prose form, and included informal notes to the poems. This is a useful and inspiring addition to The Essential Poets series.

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About the author (2008)

Born in San Francisco, Calif., Robert Hass received his undergraduate degree from St. Mary's College and his masters and Ph.D. from Stanford University. After graduating, Hass wrote his first collection of poetry, Field Guide, which went on to win the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1973. Hass's second collection, Praise, won the Williams Carlos Williams Award in 1979. Selected by the Library of Congress as Poet Laureate of the United States in 1995-96, Hass has taught writing at the University of California at Berkeley since 1989. Hass has co-translated several volumes of poetry by Nobel Laureate and fellow colleague Czeslaw Milosz and is the editor of The Essential Haiku.

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