The Sound of Water - Over 200 of the Best Haiku
Haiku by Bashō, Buson, Issa, and Other Poets - Translated by Sam Hammil
This book has touched and inspired me for many years and it remains fresh and exciting every time I dip into it. Treat yourself (and your friends) to over two hundred of the best haiku of Japanese literature - written from the seventeenth century to the early twentieth century by the great masters.
The title is taken from one of my favourites by Bashō:
at the ancient pond
a frog plunges into
the sound of water
(Bash ō 1644 - 1694)
If you would like to be inspired by the masters, moved by startling poetic simplicity, and enjoy an excellent insight to the art of haiku, then as they say, “This has got to be the one for you!”
Haiku may be the most popular and widely recognisable poetic form in the world. In just three lines a great haiku presents a crystalline moment of image, emotion, and awareness. Elements of compassion, silence and a sense of temporality often combine to reveal a quality of mystery. Just as often, haiku may bring a startling insight into the ordinary, or a flash of humour.
Sam Hamill provides an introduction to this compact book which includes an insight into the history and form of haiku as well as to the three recognised Japanese haiku masters (I also thoroughly enjoyed the poems from the other lesser-known Japanese poets).
so very still, even
cherry blossoms are not stirred
by the temple bell
In three lines totalling seventeen syllables measuring 5-7-5, a great haiku presents - through imagery drawn from intensely careful observation - a web of associated ideas.
rain falls on the grass,
filling the ruts left by
the festival cart
(Buson 1715 - 1783))
The book itself measures only 4" x 4" and many have said that it is ideal to slip into one's pocket to take and read on walks through nature. I however find that the size makes it an unusually quaint gift and that after taking in some of the enchanting haiku, you will probably find that the words and images accompany you without you having to carry a reminder.
a world of dew,
and within every dewdrop
a world of struggle
(Issa 1762 - 1826)
Why not try your hand at haiku? Here are some guidelines:
- Haiku poems consist of 5, 7, 5 syllables in three lines.
- The cutting divides the haiku in two parts with a certain imaginative distance between the two sections. Line one and two should be different images. Line three brings the two images together.
- A haiku often contains a kigo , a season word which indicates in which season the haiku is set. For example cherry blossoms indicate spring, snow winter etc. The season word isn’t always that obvious.
- Try to write a haiku only about what actually happens to you.
- Write when you have been deeply moved.
- Keep it honest, simple, clear and modest.
- Try not to explain, it should need no explanation.
- Try not to express feelings in words, let the concrete action speak for itself.
wrapping dumplings in
bamboo leaves, with one finger
she tidies her hair
(Bash ō 1644 - 1694)
Treat yourself to a treasure - the book is available world-wide. And also treat yourself by expressing yourself in this creative form.
I love the process of letting the haiku process flow without trying. It inspires me and frees my creative mind to occasionally release images and emotions which I thrill on seeing as they pour from my pen. Here are a few of my attempts.
waiting for the words
the depth of me in haiku
tell you who I am
flying from the edge
although sometimes very scared
the wise sage returns
the turtle dove sings
good morning good morning Russ
I rise happily
majestic swoop wings
aligning with smooth water
coming in to land
sleeping without you
not as much fun as with you
come back to my bed
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