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The Sound of Water - Over 200 of the Best Haiku

Updated on August 25, 2011

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

(Fuhaku 1714-1807)

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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    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 4 months ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Thank you Lynn, that i kind of you. x

    • profile image

      birdlynn 4 months ago

      Beautiful, thank you so much. I love Haiku. :)

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 5 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Thanks imtbkit, I love it when people share their haiku. Regards, Russ

    • profile image

      imtbklt 5 years ago

      Pleasuring yourself

      To the Leonard Cohen verse

      It becomes poetic

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 6 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi zuckr, nice one!

    • profile image

      zuckr 6 years ago

      haiku really sucks

      it's impossible to write

      oh, wait, no it's not

    • profile image

      jamie 6 years ago

      hey you are cool

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 6 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi John, there are many haiku hubs on HubPages. I have more than thirty and so do so many other talented writers. Take a look, I'm sure you'll have more than enough information for your project.

    • profile image

      John 6 years ago

      Please, Post More A Haiku We need it because we have an project it About Haiku Thx :)))

    • profile image

      confused student 6 years ago

      thanks for the help

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 6 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi, and thanks for these. I always read poetry slowly and out loud. This helps me to feel and hear the words, the melody, the rhythm and immediately get a sense of whether it resonates with me or not. I find this better than tring to understand the poem. Yours do resonate with me. I hope they do for you. I would suggest that trying hard though, isn't the way to be creative with poetry. Let it just come out, and celebrate whatever happens. Russ

    • profile image

      confused student 6 years ago

      thank you ive been working really hard heres another one:

      when all is no more

      there is always tomarrow

      only if sought out

      and another one:

      stars carried by dreams

      lying just beyond my reach


      how do they sound ive heard that its always good to have a second oppinion?

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 6 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi, you certainly aren't confused. I love your haiku! More please. Russ

    • profile image

      confused student 6 years ago

      i this a haiku:

      taking steps forward

      brings me to the begining

      i should start runing

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 6 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      beauty as they say

      eye of the beholder

      i like your eye Niamh

    • profile image

      Niamh 6 years ago

      All are wonderful,

      wisdom rings in all haikus.

      Beautiful are yours.

    • profile image

      tessahotstuff4ya 6 years ago

      nice haikus. i like them and there very heart touching

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 6 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Thank you Snakeslane, I appreciate your comments. Regards, Russ

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      I love the way Hubs lead you to other Hubs and here I am enjoying your in depth look at Haiku, thanks, I've seen the book it's a classic.

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 6 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi Chris, I like it. I like the imagery and how much it says. It also sounds good when read aloud. More please. Regards, Russ

    • profile image

      Cliff 6 years ago

      Pink bulbs over ice

      Floral willows melt the pond

      Bright contradiction.

      I wrote this a few months ago, and never knew what to think of it.

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 7 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi Kirtan, there are many forms and adaptations of haiku. Even this book is one of translations which are only as good as the translator!s perception and adherence to traditional form. I respect the form of haiku but am very comfortable adapting it to my preferred form with the intention of telling an instinctive story using very few words. Regards, Russ

    • profile image

      Kirtan Kalaria 7 years ago

      I'm just lost in worlds of haikua. Conditions not apply.

    • profile image

      Robin 7 years ago

      Brilliant, well wrtand informative.

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 7 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Thanks Pearldiver, this is really a gem!

    • Pearldiver profile image

      Rob Welsh 7 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

      I hadn't seen it before I recently saw it on Amazon Sab Oh.. maybe after this excellent review... I should borrow your pocket! Nice work Russ... I enjoy haiku very much.

    • Sab Oh profile image

      Sab Oh 8 years ago

      Funny you should mention this, as I've had this book in my back pocket everywhere I go for the past 4-5 years.

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 8 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Thank you Moulik.

    • Moulik Mistry profile image

      Moulik Mistry 8 years ago from Burdwan, West Bengal, India

      Beautiful review work, nice to know something which I didn't know, thank you...

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 9 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Thank you Chris, although I'm surprised. You are such a great writer and I believe you would be great at almost any form of artistic expression.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 9 years ago from Manila, Philippines


      This was a beutiful review and the excerpts you included are just...words leave me! I find haiku a very difficult form so I have nothing but admiration for those who could, like yourself. Thanks for sharing :D

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 9 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Thanks Tony, I miss you too!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 9 years ago from South Africa

      Hey Russ - what an enjoyable review. I also love haiku. I don't have this particular book but do have several others. Will look out for this one as it seems great.

      Thanks for the great Hub (and for being my friend! - I'm missing you)

      Love and peace


    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 9 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Thanks guys, I still need lots of reminding to refresh my haiku intuition. Nice one Larry! I love the perspective.

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 9 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Oh well, now, maven beat me out and commented

      What a lovely review. I love the examples you chose and enjoyed reading yours as well. Inspiring. Thank you for the steps. It's been so very long I'd forgotten. The haikus which captured me most here are "so very still, even" and "wrapping dumplings in".

      Thanks for the wonderful read this morning.

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 9 years ago from Northern Arizona

      Russ..I love the clarity, the honesty, and the simplicity of the Haiku poetic expression...Thanks for this interesting Hub...

      I had to give it a first effort:

      The Humming of Bee

      A Symphonic Melody

      Offered up for Free

      The rhyming is coincidental....Larry



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