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small is beautiful

Japanese Haiku Poems - Peter Washington

The strict form of haiku, (which I've always found fun) is untranslatable, so we are left with free verse. It's amazing how wonderful the famous Japanese haiku in this book are; each one awakens some sensory echo or memory, forges some connection to the eternal. Even when the objects they contemplate are banal the assembly sings in a mysterious voice, bringing on a meditative state of amusement, melancholy or awe. The translators of the haiku in this collection deserves high praise for capturing so much of their power.

Most of this book contains classic Japanese haiku but there is a small section of western efforts at the end. I can't account for their inferiority; nearly all seem pompous, contrived and pointless to me, with a few barely passable exceptions!

Under the cherry blossoms
None are
Utter strangers.

-Issa