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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.
Hass ( Human Wishes ) defers to the complex syntactical gaps that separate the Japanese and English languages, calling his translations "versions." Here he presents three masters of the haiku form: Basho (1644-1694), the haiku poet most familiar to English readers; Buson (1716-1783), a visually oriented writer renowned in his time as a painter; and Issa (1763-1827), whose work is most poignant when he utilizes his ironic wit. Hass's obsessions, as evidenced by his other work, can be fitted under two rubrics, grief and pleasure, and he chooses a fair number of haiku to represent these poles. Yet the poems that merely observe nature's cyphers are most absorbing. Hass's signature is apparent in the mixture of sensual and temporal imagery: "The jars of octopus-- / brief dreams / under the summer moon" (Basho). Buson's images settle in the mind for days with their lush, unexpected vistas: "A field of mustard, / no whale in sight, / the sea darkening." Yet, surprisingly, it is Issa's haiku which may appeal most to Western readers. His benignly sardonic grasp of experience resonates with our late 20th-century cynicism: "New Year's Day-- / everything is in blossom! / I feel about average." Or: "I'm going out, / flies, so relax, / make love." Hass also includes samplings of each poet's prose, giving a deeper notion of their individual world views and aesthetics. Richly annotated, with illuminating essays on the poets and Japanese poetics, this anthology significantly broadens the pleasure of haiku for anyone unable to read them in the original.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I bought this book four or maybe five years ago and it has never left me since. It's on my bedside table. Wherever and whenever I travel, this book accompanies me. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2003 by Edith Bartholomeusz
i enjoyed the immense variety of haiku's in this book though sometimes i get the feeling that something was lost in the translation. by and large, i recommend this as a good buy.Published on March 19 2001 by Blue20
This is the first collection of Japanese haiku I ever read and I was immediately captivated. Since then I have tried to find a similar collection but this one has remained my... Read morePublished on June 22 2000 by Paul Wigelius
I've read other translations of these poems; this one is my favorite. Some of them that seemed dull in previous translations are now among my favorite poems of all time. Read morePublished on Oct. 5 1999