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The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  314 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
This unique collection spans over 400 years (1488–1902) of haiku history by the greatest masters: Bashō, Issa, Shiki, and many more, in translations by top-flight scholars in the field. Editor Faubion Bowers provides a foreword and many informative notes to the poems.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published September 24th 1996 by Dover Publications (first published 1902)
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Community Reviews

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Nov 18, 2015 Florencia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Haiku should be just
small stones dropping down a well
with a small splash

- James Kirkup (8)

Haiku or the complexity of subtlety
As a big fan of etymology, I was captivated by this book's introduction. It is a clear and detailed recount of the history of haiku. The present enthralling subject we are tediously discussing here—I suggest a considerable amount of coffee in your system or ignoring these couple of paragraphs—has its origin in 12th-century renga, a form of collaborative poetry. Poets, in
Bernie Gourley
May 13, 2013 Bernie Gourley rated it really liked it
This is the second haiku anthology that I've reviewed on my site. While they're both thin volumes of traditional haiku, each has it's distinct flavor. The previous volume was organized by season. This one is organized by author. The two books share several authors (e.g. the greats Bashō, Issa, and Buson), but diverge on many of the lesser known poets.

One nice feature of this book is that it offers multiple translations of many of the haiku. Poetry is notoriously tricky to translate as literal t
Cristián Morales Marroquín
Mis favoritos:

(te o tsuite/uts moshiagaru/kawazu kana)
"Hands to the floor
offering up a song
the frog..."

(yado no haru/nani mo naki koso/ nani mo are)
"In my hut this spring
there is nothing
there is everything"

(furuike ya/ kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto)
"Old pond
frogs jumped in
sound of water"

(natsukusa ya / tsuwamonodomo ga / yume no ato)
Summer grasses
where stalwart soldiers
once dreamed dreams

(kojiki kana / tenchi no kitaru / natsu goromo)
"There a beggar goes!
Heaven and eart
Aug 03, 2007 Kay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan, poetry, nonfiction
This slim and inexpensive Dover edition is a great introduction to the haiku masters as well as lesser-known poets. One thing that I particular liked is that editor Bowers presents multiple translations of the same pieces, so that you get a sense of just how difficult it is to translate haiku. The notes on the poems help, too, in grasping what the poetic images meant to contemporary Japanese. Proceeding chronologically, you can see how haiku develops, and you can also see how Western translation ...more
Arthur Cravan
Mar 12, 2016 Arthur Cravan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Haiku-initiates
Shelves: poetry, japanese
As a thin tome acting as an introduction (actual introduction, of course, included), I found this great. I have a few books of Japanese poetry I turn to from time to time, but I suppose due to the ease & length of this one, this is the first I've read cover-to-cover.

I would recommend it to just about anyone with any interest who are yet to dip their toes. I must say, I feel like some of the translations seem weak to me... not that I can read any of the originals, but I feel like I can tell..
Jan 21, 2016 Burak rated it it was amazing
Shelves: haiku
Brilliant collection of Haiku that stands out in its coverage of the pre-Basho era (the Haiku, or Hokku, were the opening verses of the Renga poem before Basho turned it into an independent art). Even though the book is small, it covers 247 Haiku from 48 Renga masters and Haijin, and with extensive footnotes that give great insight into the tradition. With all that, I think this book makes a great companion to the reading of "The Haiku Handbook" by Higginson, or any other general introduction to ...more
Jul 17, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mark by: Sara Q
This is a slim, yet excellent, volume. It has footnotes to many of the 48 authors and their poems which greatly helps a Westerner understand the significance/meaning of the haikus. It includes a short forward by the editor which provides context/knowledge and many of the poems are presented in multiple translations by several of the 43 translators.
May 01, 2013 Haritha rated it really liked it
I actually wrote a nice long review for this book, including some of my favorite Haiku from this book, but stupid Goodreads didn't save it. I'm so disheartened! I don't have the heart to type it all again right now. Maybe I will write it again later. Suffices to say that I enjoyed the book.
Feb 14, 2015 Andrada rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This book was a wonderful introduction to the world of classical haiku put together by clear admirers of it. The notes giving information on each poet as well as additional explanations were great without being overbearing. I also loved that they included the original Japanese texts in Romaji(I was pleasantly surprised by the fact I managed to understand some of them). And the poems themselves, what beauty, what raw and pure emotion expressed in such minimalistic fashion. The Japanese have - wit ...more
Noel Shafi
Dec 18, 2015 Noel Shafi rated it it was amazing
In this slim-fit and fully loaded anthology of haiku published by Dover Thrift, editor Faubion Bowers presents Japanese short poems written by the masters: from Basho to Uko-ni. This anthology offers Japanese transliterations of selected haiku, accompanied by various English translations, and annotations from the editor. The translations are from a wide-range of distinguished writers, including the American poet, Allen Ginsberg, the noteworthy haiku scholar and poet, William J. Higginson, former ...more
Phillip Goodman
I'm a big fan of dover thrift editions, and of Haiku's or that matter. though this edition can not be said to be as beautiful as some more expensive haiku collections, and does not benefit from the illustrations that often make these incredible terse poems feel more complete, it is none the less very good, the works, including many lesser known poets are very well chosen, the footnotes are nicely informative, and the multiple translations are an excellent touch, they illustrate the difficulty in ...more
Nissa Annakindt
Jun 09, 2015 Nissa Annakindt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, haiku
This slim and inexpensive volume gives you a taste of the work of classic Japanese haiku writers from Iio Sogi (1421-1502) to Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902).

What makes this haiku book different is that the original Japanese versions, transliterated into our alphabet, is given. It gives you an idea what the original sounded like.

Also, for many poems there are more than one translation given, so that you may compare.

There are footnotes to explain matters in the poems that may be obscure to the Western
Rhonda Browning White
Sep 22, 2010 Rhonda Browning White rated it it was amazing
A beautiful piece of work proving poetry is timeless. The use of figurative language transcends centuries and cultures. Some of these poems will take your breath away, and others will cause you to chuckle. (Originally, haiku were humorous "comic-linked verse," something I didn't know).

The book is a quick and easy read, but I'll warn you, it's addictive. I've read it cover-to-cover several times over the course of a few weeks. It's a definite keeper!

Some of my favorites:

I regret picking
and not p
DJ Ghostly
Apr 26, 2015 DJ Ghostly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haiku but not as Japanese...

Japanese Publication... Other than that it's a Great Start... You'll find most if not all of the Great Haiku Poets... Good Luck in this deep Search...
C.B. Wentworth
Nov 23, 2014 C.B. Wentworth rated it it was amazing
A delightful collection of haiku. Aside from very informative footnotes, the editor includes the original Japanese version of each haiku with multiple translations.
Dec 16, 2014 Jeanne rated it really liked it
Be sure and read the intro and the footnotes to get the full value of this wonderful art form.
Oct 28, 2015 Thomas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
fantastic collection of carefully selected and explained haiku - highly recommended
Callum McLaughlin
Jun 11, 2015 Callum McLaughlin rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
It's been said by some of the greats that Japanese haiku are so specific in their structure and use of language that no translation could do them full justice, since verbatim translations are near impossible (this is why some poems in this anthology actually have multiple versions presented, as different translators made different interpretations, which was interesting to see).

While I agree to an extent, it was nice nonetheless to see at least a glimpse of the masters of the form at work.
May 20, 2015 Mattō rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those wanting to study haiku.
I really enjoyed this collection. The poetry, which is collected from many masters, is presented with multiple translations beside the original Japanese words. What really stood out for me was the abundance of and the amazing information in the footnotes.

I would not suggest this for a new reader of haiku, but for anyone what is already familiar with the style and would like to get a sense of the great masterworks in the traditional form of this poetry.
Jun 28, 2009 Joe rated it really liked it
I didn't expect much from a dover thrift edition of haiku. The translations aren't always to my liking, being collected from several different authors, but the collection is well foot-noted, and covers a wide range of classic haiku authors. The footnotes added some interest, and the range of authors impressed me a bit in their differences to Issa and Basho, who I'd read before.
Feb 02, 2014 Nick added it
It's only a slender little volume, but I will be revisiting this again. So many delicate and beautiful poems on offer. It might even inspire me to try my hand at writing my own haiku.

I'll be seeking another anthology of poems, as this has piqued my interest. So nice to read in a spare moment.
Dec 12, 2014 Lysergius rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
As an introduction to the form this is an interesting little volume, however there are better. This has the advantage that it prints the Japanese original so the seventeen syllable form can be seen. An comprehensive collection containing poems by 72 Haiku authors.
Mike Jensen
Dec 27, 2009 Mike Jensen rated it really liked it
This was a learning experience, but the more I read the more I "got it," it being the subtlety of the haiku tradition. It was challenging to slow down to the small moment and let it have meaning. A worthwhile exercise.
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Sep 02, 2012 Sheri Fresonke Harper rated it really liked it
Excellent footnotes about the history of the artist's included in this anthology. At the start, a helpful history is provided that explains the tradition of haiku in Japan. Poems span the years from 1400-1800.
Nice little introduction, includes translations from a variety of authors, some much better than others. One of my favorite haikus: morning glory/ the well-bucket entangled/ I ask for water.
Terrance Kutney
Dec 23, 2012 Terrance Kutney rated it liked it
Good collection of haiku poems and cheap. Unfortunately this book only has romaji and english and that is why I only gave it 3 stars.
Sep 12, 2009 Kristen rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I enjoy sounding out the Japanese versions of these poems and reading the English versions side-by-side. Lovely images.
Virtual Summer in Japan - 2013 School Virtual Reality Project Reading List.
Sep 11, 2012 Anya rated it it was amazing
Excellent collection, romaji text for each poem as well as helpful notes are much appreciated.
May 07, 2013 Dan rated it it was amazing
Wonderful cultural notes. I have learned an awful lot more about a poem style I have always loved.
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“mihotoke ni / shini mukeoreba / tsuki suzushi4 I’ve turned my back On Buddha How cool the moon!” 1 likes
“hito iyashiku / ran no atai o / ronji keri Men are disgusting. They argue over The price of orchids.” 1 likes
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