Japanese Haiku from Peter Pauper Press

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Four stars, read in July 2017.

I couldn’t believe my luck to find these three small, beautiful old volumes at my local used bookstore last nightparticularly because under their faded, torn jackets the same lovely pattern has been preserved on the hardcover.

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Rather than reviews, my posts about haiku are always just a collection of the ones that struck me most notably, and there were many in this first volume. I’m not positive about capitalization and punctuation because they’re printed in all caps, and in fact there’s a note from the publisher explaining that in order to include the decorative Japanese designs that accompany each poem, they had to split the second line into two. I went with what looked right to me.

Twilight whipporwhill . . .
whistle on, sweet deepener
of dark loneliness
Basho

In the open shop
paperweights on picture books . . .
young springtime breeze
Kito

Life? Butterfly
on a swaying grass. That’s all . . .
But exquisite!
Soin

On her dead son:
In what windy land
wanders now my little dear
dragonfly hunter?
Chiyo-ni

Mirror-pond of stars . . .
Suddenly a summer shower
dimples the water
Sora

Angry I strode home . . .
But stooping in my garden
Calm old willow-tree
Ryota

Torches! Come and see
the burglar I have captured . . .
Oh! My eldest son!
Sokan

Lonely umbrella
passing the house at twilight . . .
First snow falling soft
Yaha

Buddha on the hill . . .
From your holy nose indeed
hangs an icicle
Issa

Death-song:
Leaf alone, fluttering
Alas, leaf alone, fluttering . . .
Floating down the wind
Anon.

Death-song:
I have known lovers . . .
Cherry-bloom . . . The nightingale . . .
I will sleep content
Anon.

Death-song:
Three loveliest things:
Moonlight . . . Cherry-bloom . . . Now I go
Seeking silent snow
Rippo

 

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