Sunday, February 28, 2016

Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson translated by W.S. Merwin & Takako Lento

When you grow chrysanthemums
you become a servant

of chrysanthemums

The East Mountain
tries to hold onto the night
but the daybreak can't wait

A kite is flying
just where it flew
in yesterday's sky

For some months now, in fact, I think it's been two years, I've had this book on my night stand. And, when the mood strikes me, I'd pick it up, read between three and twenty haiku, and then go to bed. This would normally occur if I were not ready for bed, had nothing else I felt like reading (e.g., my only option is an oppressively long chapter in a novel I only kind of like), and had already exhausted all the pleasures I could derive from the internet-machine.

Yosa Buson's grave.
My familiarity with poetry is quite terrible. Indeed, this is the one of only two books of poetry I've ever logged in my Fifty Books Project days. (the other is The Poetry of Sappho; arguably it does not count because it was during a year that I logged only four books and did zero reviews).

Nonetheless, I have a soft spot for haiku. I like writing haiku; I like boiling something down into seventeen syllables. And I like reading haiku. Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed reading Buson's haiku.

The collection featured many poems about nature. It is divided into topics, which is helpful if I some day find myself needing a haiku or two about new years (as I did for a new year's party we had at the beginning of the year).

I would recommend this book for precisely how I read it. A book to have on hand, when the mood strikes, to read a couple of poems and put down again. If you're unfamiliar with haiku, you might start with Basho, who is rightfully considered the foremost master. Buson is a nice follow-up, though, so worth the read.

Now what will I do
When the haiku mood strikes me
Without Buson there?


Christopher said...

Supercool. If you're interesting in getting into poetry via haiku, you could check out Pound, who always claimed to be inspired by them. But personally, I think you might do better with Stephen Crane:

Randy said...

Wow, I think you're right. That's a great poem. Thanks for the recommendation.

Brittany said...

Little Marshall sleeps
Little Brucie snores, Randy
ran out of haiku