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The Spring of My Life: And Selected Haiku by…
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The Spring of My Life: And Selected Haiku

by Kobayashi Issa

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This is the most wonderful collection of Issa's writings I've ever seen. "The Spring of My Life" is a haibun of 21 chapters. Each basically starts with a short anecdote and is followed by a series of haiku on related themes. The anecdotes are alternately charming, fascinating, and disturbing.

Sam Hamill gives a very readable and honest translation. In the latter half of the book is a collection of about 160 haiku with English and romaji versions of each. I started noticing problems in the translations as I read the Japanese versions -- Hamill has added filler words, making the moon into a "bright moon" and a frog into an "old frog". Harmless enough, but unnecessary -- it appears he's done it just for the sake of making most of the English haiku be 5-7-5, which is hardly justification enough for altering the meaning of the poems.

Still, this was one of the most inspiring collections of haiku I've read. ( )
  tombrinck | May 13, 2006 |
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