Haiku Edited by David Cobb, pub: The British Museum Press
When I went to Crafting Beauty at the British Museum I couldn’t afford the £800 sake sets but I bought this little book.
I’ve attempted a couple of haiku in Japanese, but somehow I don’t think the form lends itself to love poetry and the reaction is more one of amusement than anything else! Oh well.
Most people are familiar with the 5,7,5 sylable structure, but maybe not with the seasonal words, kigo, and cutting word, kireji. I also wonder about the syllable count. Apparently 17 isn’t a hard and fast rule. Also how do you count a glottal stop? or a long vowel? or n? How important are verbs and particles; there’s very little space to express things. What’s not said as is often the case in Japanese is just as important.
This book is essentially a gift book. It has a short essay about haiku, then the bulk of the book is haiku and illustrations from the museum’s collection. Each haiku is given as calligraphy, a romaji version and an English version. The haiku in the book are arranged into the four seasons. There are also notes on the authors and suggestions for further reading and Internet links such as The British Haiku Society. (which is unfortunately an out of date link)
It’s nice little book to dip into. The poems are short enough to explore reading in Japanese and figuring out the kanji. Maybe you could even try writing haiku in Japanese. You might not produce great poetry but it’s an interesting thing to try.
My favorite haiku in the collection is a modern one by Hino Soujou
If you are interested in Japanese poetry you may also be interested in Love Songs from the Manyoshu.
If attempting your own poetry this online saijiki of seasonal words is interesting.