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The Essential Basho

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  131 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
     Here is the most complete single-volume collection of writings by one of the great luminaries of Asian literature. Includes a masterful translation of Basho's most celebrated work, Narrow Road to the Interior, along with three less well-known works and over 250 of Basho's finest haiku. The translator has included an overview of Basho's life and an essay on the art of ...more
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published March 30th 1999 by Shambhala (first published 1999)
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Akemi G
Sep 21, 2015 Akemi G rated it really liked it
It's interesting to see how various translators do their work. Basho is popular among the English-speaking readers, I guess.
This is a new translation. It says it's the most complete single-volume collection (of Basho), but comparing the TOC side by side, I don't see how it is more complete than The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches. And I think this translator attempts to be different from others in a strange way. For instance, before the famous summer grass haiku, Hamill
Feb 23, 2008 Jacq rated it it was amazing
The moon so pure
a wandering monk carries it
across the sand.

Basho is brilliant. His work speaks for itself.
Feb 25, 2014 Sandra added it
Shelves: poetry, read-2014
On my desk for some time now has been a yellow filing card with the following written on it with a marking pen:

"I do not seek to follow
in the footsteps of those of
old. I seek only what they

These are a translation of the words of the Japanese poet, Basho, who was born in 1644 in Ueno, Iga Province, 30 miles south of Kyoto, Japan. He was the son of Matsuo Yozaemon, a low-ranking samurai. Basho had a samurai name also: it was Matsuo Munefusa.

The Essential Basho was brought to my attention b
Ty Melgren
Jun 05, 2011 Ty Melgren rated it really liked it
Here, I typed up the best ones for you:
Mar 12, 2013 Stephen rated it liked it
Where to begin... I wanted to read this because I wanted to get some kind of tips on writing Haiku. I think it helped (and I'll write some points out for my own record keeping purposes), but what solidified in my mind, is that haiku don't really... really... work well apart from the environment which gave rise to them. What does that mean? A great haiku can stand on its own, but it will, I think have more meaning if you are in the place it was written, or, have a picture accompanying it. I also ...more
Sarah Sammis
Dec 14, 2009 Sarah Sammis rated it liked it
I remember learning the basics of writing Haiku in fifth or sixth grade. I don't however remember any of the poems I wrote for school. Since then Haiku has been out of sight, out of mind for me. That was until my son and I read Dragon of the Red Dawn (Magic Tree House #37) by Mary Pope Osborne. The story centers on Jack and Annie meeting Matsuo Basho.

Whenever Sean comes across an interesting factual detail in a book he's reading he likes to research what he's learned. Usually he and I will do a
Sally Hegedus
Wonderful. Translater Sam Hamill has provided excellent history on haiku and Basho. The travelogues included are thoughtful writing and so descriptive, often delightful. It's nice to have Basho's poems placed within these prose pieces, as he wrote them; providing the settings in which they were written allows for easier and more meaningful understanding of them, although this book does also contain a number of pages of stand-alone haiku. And I just loved reading Basho. Such wonderful and lovely ...more
Dec 30, 2013 Toreisii rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Basho was an amazing haikuist and his work left me with peace and a greater appreciation for the now. I found his "Narrow Road to the Interior" travelogue a little too esoteric, as I am unfamiliar with the many places he mentions but rarely describes in his travels, and I believe I missed many cultural references. His other travelogues were more accessible and his poetry by itself was wonderful. Highly recommended.
Dec 29, 2014 Steven rated it really liked it
Shelves: a, classic, art
This was my first foray into Japanese Haiku; it was not what I expected, but was enjoyable enough. My only frustrations with the book are technical: why end-notes instead of foot-notes? what were the criteria to determine what got a note and what did not?
Perhaps I am being too hard on the work, it seems designed for one with more an academic interest, where my interest, while more than just a passing-interest, is certainly not academic.
Aug 01, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing
I love the travel diaries, the haiku, and principles he taught his students about how to write good haiku.

Three favorite haikus:

Wrapping dumplings in
bamboo leaves, with one finger,
she tidies her hair

In a stiff spring breeze,
pipe clasped firmly in his mouth -
Mister Ferryman!

A snowy morning --
sitting alone with dried salmon,
enjoying chewing
Mar 09, 2010 Dean rated it it was amazing
Essential reading. Haiku by a master, and accounts of his peregrinations. When you have discovered Basho, you will see references to him everywhere.
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Oct 14, 2008
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  • The Sound of Water: Haiku by Basho, Buson, Issa, and Other Poets
  • Sources of Japanese Tradition (Volume I)
  • This Present Moment: New Poems
  • The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa
  • Collected Poems
  • You are Happy
  • Twenty Prose Poems
  • The Happy Birthday of Death
  • Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002
  • A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far
  • Given Sugar, Given Salt
  • Stray Birds
  • Evidence: Poems
  • Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
  • 100 Poems from the Japanese
  • Selected Early Poems
  • Genuine Happiness: Meditation as the Path to Fulfillment
  • The Spring of My Life and Selected Haiku
MATSUO Bashō (松尾 芭蕉) was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was renowned for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, he is recognized as a master of brief and clear haiku.
More about Bashō Matsuo...

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