Bashō's Haiku

Selected Poems of Matsuo Bashō

By Matsuo Bashō
Translated by David Landis Barnhill
Introduction by David Landis Barnhill

Subjects: Poetry, Asian Literature, Asian Religion And Philosophy, Buddhism
Paperback : 9780791461662, 346 pages, August 2004
Hardcover : 9780791461655, 346 pages, August 2004

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Table of contents


Selected Chronology of the Life of Matsuo Basho

Introduction: The Haiku Poetry of Matsuo Basho

Translation of the Hokku


Major Nature Images in Basho's Hokku



Index to Basho's Hokku in Translation

Index to Basho's Hokku in Japanese

Index of Names

A wonderful new translation of the poetry of Basho—Zen monk, poet of nature, and master of the haiku form.


2005 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

Basho's Haiku offers the most comprehensive translation yet of the poetry of Japanese writer Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694), who is credited with perfecting and popularizing the haiku form of poetry. One of the most widely read Japanese writers, both within his own country and worldwide, Bashō is especially beloved by those who appreciate nature and those who practice Zen Buddhism. Born into the samurai class, Bashō rejected that world after the death of his master and became a wandering poet and teacher. During his travels across Japan, he became a lay Zen monk and studied history and classical poetry. His poems contained a mystical quality and expressed universal themes through simple images from the natural world.

David Landis Barnhill's brilliant book strives for literal translations of Bashō's work, arranged chronologically in order to show Bashō's development as a writer. Avoiding wordy and explanatory translations, Barnhill captures the brevity and vitality of the original Japanese, letting the images suggest the depth of meaning involved. Barnhill also presents an overview of haiku poetry and analyzes the significance of nature in this literary form, while suggesting the importance of Bashō to contemporary American literature and environmental thought.

David Landis Barnhill is Director of Environmental Studies and Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. He is the coeditor (with Roger S. Gottlieb) of Deep Ecology and World Religions: New Essays on Sacred Ground, also published by SUNY Press, and the editor of At Home on the Earth: Becoming Native to Our Place: A Multicultural Anthology.