Once confined to a literary elite in Japan, haiku are now written all over the world by poets who find their combination of brevity, technical discipline and expressive content irresistible. This collection brings together hundreds of poems by Japanese writers from the fifteenth century to the twentieth, with modern examples from Europe and America. In addition, there is a selection of poems influenced by haiku, and a section devoted to haiku-like passages from traditional English poets. The book is dominated by four great masters – Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki – who between them compress the gamut of human experience into the limits of seventeen syllables.
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