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Volume 33.1
Winter Spring

book review

Classic Haiku: A Master’s Selection
edited and
translated by Yuzuru Miura


reviewed by Robert Spiess

Classic Haiku: A Master’s Selection, translated by Yuzuru Miura; Tuttle; 2001 (1991), 120 pp., paper, $14.95.


Yuzuru Miura is an English literature professor at Chukyo University in Nagoya and a haiku poet. In a brief preface he states that haiku poets “. . . at times catch a glimpse of eternity through the evanescent, through the commonplace.” And in reference to Bashô’s pond/frog haiku (not included) he mentions that Takahama Kyoshi has stated that the haiku reveals the starting point of Bashô’s direct natural description but that the haiku itself is trite, more important for its historical significance than artistic attainment.

The book’s five seasonal sections (spring through New Year’s) contain 100 haiku, one to a page, in the original Japanese, romaji, and English-translation. Each season section has a full page painting, with occasional small ones on various pages, by Saito Gorô. Brief biographies of the poets, from Bashô and Buson to living authors, are included.

Here is a sampling of the haiku:

A spring day—
A long line of footprints
On the sandy beach.

Masaoka Shiki


Sleeping, waking,
And then giving a great yawn,
The cat goes out for lovemaking.

Kobayashi Issa

The windchime silent
But the clock ticking—
Ah, the heat!

Yokoi Yayû


What a cooling sight—
To see a young maid
Tying up her narrow sash.

Kubota Mantarô




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