Friday, September 12, 2014

Poetry Friday: The Classic Tradition of Haiku

 Since 'The Classic Tradition of Haiku' is a Dover Thrift edition, I knew it would be cheap. What I didn't know was that it would be good--- better than many a higher-priced haiku book.

What's so great about it? First of all, each haiku is given not only in one or more English translations, but in the Japanese original, transliterated into our Latin alphabet.

The transliterations can be used to evaluate the sounds used in the original haiku, and to count the syllables. Though what Japanese poets are counting when they write haiku isn't exactly a syllable as we understand it.

There are over 40 haiku poets included in the anthology. The earliest one is Iio Sogi (1421-1502). He was known as a renga poet. (Haiku are a part of renga.)

Here is an example of Sogi's work:
ayafuki kuni ya
tami mo kurushiki

and will the land not fall in ruin
with its commoners in distress 
This haiku is 7-7 rather than the common 5-7-5, is not about nature, and lacks a season-word, and so is different from what we normally think of as classic haiku.

The most recent poet included is Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), last of the four great historic haiku writers.  Here is an example of his work.

harusame ya
kasa sashite miru

spring rain
browsing under my umbrella
at the picture-book store

This is more like the haiku we are used to, though by my count it's 5-7-4. It does have a season word, however.

This little book is a delight. Useful not only to the haiku poet and haiku fan, it's also a great book for a homeschooling mom teaching a poetry unit, or for a school teacher.

This is how I am using the book lately to learn to write haiku: each day I copy out one haiku into my composition book. I then use it for a model--- or just for inspiration--- to write one of my own. Here is one I did using the above haiku by Sogi as a model:

when tranquil deer mouse trembles
the whole field jumps at shadows

(c) Nissa Annakindt 2014

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Diane Mayr said...

Interesting to read how you used the transliterations!

Mary Lee said...

TWO great posts this week on haiku books and how you use the poems to inspire your own writing (yours and Keri's). I love when the PF posts "talk" to each other!!