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Book of the Week: Bashō: The Complete Haiku of Japanese Poet Matsuo Basho, in Translation by Jane Reichhold

From an article on Poetry Foundation, we learn that the 17th-century Japanese haiku master Bashō was born Matsuo Kinsaku near Kyoto, Japan and he stands today as one of Japan’s most renowned and revered writers. Jane Reichhold dedicated over ten years of work to translating Bashō’s works. Dividing Bashō’s creative output into seven periods of development, Reichhold frames each period with a biographical sketch of the poet’s travels and Bashō’s creative influences and personal triumphs and defeats.

is it a spider
with a voice crying
the autumn wind

misty showers
the day one cannot see Mount Fuji
it is more attractive

how harsh
the sound of hailstones
on a cypress-slat hat

fleas and lice
now a horse pisses
by my pillow

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library and please share your favorite poem from the book with us.

Do you have a chapbook published in 2016 or earlier that you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details. Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by THF Digital Librarian Dan Campbell and are used with permission.


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Happy to see that that this book of Jane Reichhold is now archived at THF. Jane didn’t fancy-dance about in her translations but gave them to us in plain, everyday language, which carries the experience to readers more directly. This has long been a favourite:

    fleas and lice
    now a horse pisses
    by my pillow
    Try to sleep with all that happening! ( For those unfamiliar with horses: when they piss they do it in great quantity and it goes on for a long time before finishing.)

  2. Good book (already in my digital library…). The raw translations under the romaji are particularly useful for us non-Japanese speakers. Thanks for bringing it to wider attention, Dan.

  3. A welcome PDF version of Jane’s remarkable book. There is never one single book on Matsuo Bashō and his hokku and other haikai verses, but of course this is a necessary addition to a library of books focusing on his poetry in translation for English-language readers.

    Jane Reichhold is still grievously missed.

    warm regards,

    1. Thank you Haiku Foundation! I have another pdf of (late) Jane Reichhold about how to haiku. Yet this one is totally different. Learnt a lot!

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