This gem of Japanese poetry has preserved its charm for almost a century while remaining the most popular of classical poetry anthologies among the Japanese. The Hyaku-nin-isshiu (literally "one hundred poems by one hundred poets") is a collection of a hundred evocative and intensely human specimens of Japanese tanka (poetry written in a five-line thirty-one syllable format in a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern) composed between the seventh and thirteenth centuries and compiled by Sadaiye Fujiwara in 1235. These little poems consist almost entirely of love poems and picture poems intended to bring some well-known scene to mind: nature, the round of the seasons, the impermanence of life, and the vicissitudes of love. There are obvious Buddhist and Shinto influences throughout.
To make the sounds more familiar to English readers, the translator has adopted a five-line verse of 8-6-8-6-6 meter, with the second, fourth, and fifth lines rhyming. His accompanying notes put the poems into a cultural and historical context. Each poem is illustrated with an eighteenth-century Japanese woodcut by an anonymous illustrator.
David Landis Barnhill's brilliant book strives for literal translations of Basho's work, arranged chronologically in order to show Basho's development as a writer. Avoiding wordy and explanatory translations, Barnhill captures the brevity and vitality of the original Japanese, letting the images suggest the depth of meaning involved. Barnhill also presents an overview of haiku poetry and analyzes the significance of nature in this literary form, while suggesting the importance of Basho to contemporary American literature and environmental thought.
This unique collection spans over 400 years (1488–1902) of haiku history by the greatest masters: Bashō, Issa, Shiki, and many more, in translations by top-flight scholars in the field. Haiku commands enormous respect in Japan. Now readers of poetry in the West can savor these expressive masterpieces in this treasury compiled by noted writer Faubion Bowers, who provides a Foreword and many informative notes to the poems.
Onto a road of darkness
Lit only by the far off
Moon on the edge of the mountains.
Over the years, thousands of readers have discovered the beauty of classic Japanese poetry through the superb English versions by the great American poet Kenneth Rexroth. Mostly haiku, these poems range from the classical and medieval to modern poetry, with an emphasis on folk songs and love lyrics. Because women played such an outstanding role in Japanese literature, included here are selections from their work, including the contemporary, deeply sensuous Marichiko. This elegant, beautifully designed gift book of poems spanning many centuries presents the original texts in romanji, the transliteration into the Western alphabet.
Akiko's later poetry has now begun to win long-overdue recognition, but in terms of literary history the impact of Midaregami (Tangled Hair, 1901), her first book, still overshadows everything else she wrote, for it brought individualism to traditional tanka poetry with a tempestuous force and passion found in no other work of the period. Embracing the Firebird traces Akiko's emotional and artistic development up to the publication of this seminal work, which became a classic of modern Japanese poetry and marked the starting point of Akiko's forty-year-long career as a writer. It then examines Tangled Hair itself, the characteristics that make it a unified work of art, and its originality.
The study throughout includes Janine Beichman's elegant translations of poems by Yosano Akiko (both those included in Tangled Hair and those not), as well as poems by contemporaries such as Yosano Tekkan, Yamakawa Tomiko, and others.
A significant dimension of this volume is the detailed and extensive treatment afforded two important areas of postwar Japanese verse: the poetry of women and of Okinawa. Modernism in Practice is noteworthy not only as an introduction to postwar Japanese poets and their times, but also for the numerous poems that appear in translation throughout the volume many for the first time in book form."