This glorious anthology containing over 100 haikus is selected and edited by Yuzuru Miura, an accomplished poet and English professor at Chukyo University in Nagoya, Japan. The selections from the seventeenth century to the present were chosen for their literary merit.
Part of the Tuttle Classics of Japanese Literature Collection, Classic Haiku presents each poem in Japanese characters, phonetic romaji Japanese, and artistic English translation. A thoughtful touch is the addition of brief biographies of the featured poets from the masters of the past to the practitioners in the present. The haiku are grouped in five traditional categories spring, summer, fall, winter, and New Year's.
Kawabata Bosha nails down a magic moment in the natural world with three beautiful images: "A drop of dew / Sits on a rock / Like a diamond." This gem pays tribute to a haiku ideal: images before ideas.
We are great fans of Kobayashi Issa whose playful poems always open our eyes to the wonders of the insect and animal worlds. Here's an example: "Oh, cricket! / Act as grave keeper / After I am gone." The fleetingness of life is part of the Zen tradition. The challenge is to relish every moment. That is just what Tomiyasu Fusei accomplishes: "I love the rest of my life / Though it is transitory / Like a light azure morning glory."
All of us can always use another image of transformation or personal renewal. Here's one by Oshima Ryota: "Against the bright full moon / A hilltop pine tree / Is the image of my rebirth."