opulent and encyclopedic volume presents the first translation
of a Japanese tea masters saijiki into English. The
book has a chapter for each month of the year, as well as
some introductory material that includes glossaries of names
and terms. Each monthly chapter contains the following nine
sections: Chashu (Features of the Month), Gyôji (Events
of the Month), Kishin (Memorial Days), Chabana (Flowers
for Tea), Kashi (Cakes), Kaiseki (Meals for Tea), Shokumi
(Foods for the Month), Kigo (Words for the Month), and Meisû
(Single Items). For haiku poets, the Kigo section will probably
be of most interest. There are also fifty-seven pages of
appendices, with tables of such things as "Monthly
Names for Water" and "Names of Monthly Trees."
book contains translations of both haiku and waka. The poems
are presented in the original Japanese, rômaji, and
English. The translators write, "The translations are
not in poetic form because our primary aim has been to make
the meaning of the poem clear. To achieve this, in many
cases we have sacrificed beauty and rhythm for clarity."
This is a somewhat disappointing approach; one is particularly
puzzled by the suggestion that poetic translations are by
their nature unclear.
translations of haiku are presented in one or two lines
of prose, mostly as complete sentences. Here are two of
Bashôs haiku, the first translation of each
from the book being reviewed, the second from Makoto Uedas
Bashô and his Interpreters [Stanford, 1992]:
mud and the morning dew on the gourd looks fresh and cool.
the morning dew
spotted with mud, and how cool
melons on the soil
the first haiku, McCabe and Satokos translation it
is the mud and the dew that are cool, while in Uedasand
Bashôsit is the melon. One wishes the
translators had made the additional effort to provide more
poeticand accuratetranslations, or sought them
out. Fortunately, not all are so hideously done, as the
harvest moon! Around the pond I wandered all night long.
I stroll round the pond
till the night is through
compares favorably to Uedas. Some might even prefer
"all night long" to "till the night is through."
chapter presents between twenty-three and fifty kigo with
an explanation of each and, in most cases, one or more haiku
or waka quoted. Here is the entry for natsu no asa (summer
morning), lacking the Japanese for the translated terms:
no asa (Natsu no akatsuki, Natsu no akebono), In the cool
and refreshing air, the season of asa-cha (tea gathering
held early in the summer, natsu; morning, asa) is about
to get started.
ya / tomoshibi nokoru / natsu no asa Tôra
dreadful! Summer morning, and the light is still burning.
price of this book may put many off, but for those interested
in how the Japanese tradition of the seasonal almanac might
be adapted to contemporary world haiku, it is worth a look.