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Basho's Haiku

Selected Poems of Matsuo Basho

Matsuo Basho, David Landis Barnhill

Publication Year: 2004

Bashoµ’s Haiku offers the most comprehensive translation yet of the poetry of Japanese writer Matsuo Bashoµ (1644–1694), who is credited with perfecting and popularizing the haiku form of poetry. One of the most widely read Japanese writers, both within his own country and worldwide, Bashoµ is especially beloved by those who appreciate nature and those who practice Zen Buddhism. Born into the samurai class, Bashoµ rejected that world after the death of his master and became a wandering poet and teacher. During his travels across Japan, he became a lay Zen monk and studied history and classical poetry. His poems contained a mystical quality and expressed universal themes through simple images from the natural world. David Landis Barnhill’s brilliant book strives for literal translations of Bashoµ’s work, arranged chronologically in order to show Bashoµ’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 Bashoµ to contemporary American literature and environmental thought.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

“You know, Basho is almost too appealing.” I remember this remark, made quietly, offhand, during a graduate seminar on haiku poetry. I’m not sure the other student even noticed the comment, but it spoke volumes not only about the scholar, but about Basho’s impact on Japanese culture and now...

Selected Chronology of the Life of Matsuo Basho

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pp. xi-xiii

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Introduction: The Haiku Poetry of Matsuo Basho

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pp. 1-18

Basho was standing on the western shores of Japan looking out upon the night sea. He was pausing on his long journey to the “deep north” of Japan, and he could hear the crashing of the waves. Miles beyond lay Sado Island. Sado was known as a place of riches, where gold was being mined. But even more it was known...

Translation of the Hokku

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pp. 19-154


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pp. 155-268

Major Nature Images in Basho’s Hokku

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pp. 269-278


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pp. 279-282


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pp. 283-285

Index to Basho’s Hokku in Translation

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pp. 287-310

Index to Basho’s Hokku in Japanese

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pp. 311-328

Index of Names

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pp. 329-331

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484654
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791461655
Print-ISBN-10: 0791461653

Page Count: 346
Publication Year: 2004

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Subject Headings

  • Japanese poetry -- Edo period, 1600-1868 -- Translations into English.
  • Haiku -- Translations into English.
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