the haiku communityyea, the public in generalis
enjoying a veritable flood of beautiful haiku gift books
from our friends in Great Britain. In MH 33.3 we briefly
reviewed the two recent releases from MQ Press in London,
Zen Poems, edited by Manu Bazzano, and Haiku:
Poetry Ancient & Modern, edited by Jackie Hardy.
Now comes David Cobbs selection, even more beautifully
produced and titled Haiku. This volume is not to be confused
with the collection of Cobbs own work, Haiku: The
Poetry of Nature, another British Museum publication scheduled
to be released at the end of 2002.
book is a celebration of Japanese haiku and painting and
modern book design, with the English text beautifully set
in Centaur, calligraphic renderings of the Japanese text,
and glorious reproductions of Japanese woodblock prints,
scroll and screen paintings, and graphics in other media.
Cobbs selection encompasses haiku of pre-Bashô
poets through works of the modern mastersnames such
as Kaneko Tôta, Arima Akito, and Suzuki Masajoarranged
by season. The editors sensible introductory notes
and biographical sketches are a bonus.
English versions of the haiku are mostly based upon those
of earlier translators, principally R.H. Blyth, sometimes
with the assistance of Sakaguchi Akiko to check the validity
of existing translations and updated by Cobb, and sometimes
new translations by Cobb himself. We are hardly expert in
this area, but a few of Cobbs translations seem strained.
For example, in haiku mizutori seems always to be translated
waterbird or waterfowl, and it is
difficult to see what Cobb gains by using the bird
by the water in this translation (page 71) of Busons
kaze ichijin mizutori shiroku miyuru kana as
and the bird by the water
is turning white
book, however, is a delight from start to finish. Here are
two favorites, the first by Teishitsu, one of the earliest
poets represented, the second by Ogino Yôko, the youngest.
it was all that I could say
the cherry flowers of Mt Yoshino!
hot bath water
cold on the breastless side