The first Penguin anthology of Japanese haiku, in vivid new translations by Adam L. Kern.
Now a global poetry, the haiku was originally a Japanese verse form that flourished from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Although renowned for its brevity, usually running over three lines in seventeen syllables, and by its use of natural imagery to make Zen-like observations about reality, in fact the haiku is much more: it can be erotic, funny, crude and mischievous. Presenting over a thousand exemplars in vivid and engaging translations, this anthology offers an illuminating introduction to this widely celebrated, if misunderstood, art form.
Adam L. Kern's new translations are accompanied here by the original Japanese and short commentaries on the poems, as well as an introduction and illustrations from the period.
“Adam L. Kern's authoritative new anthology challenges the myth of haiku as a monkish meditation on the natural world . . . What we get is a cultural history of Japan up to the end of the 19th century condensed into verse . . . This feast-like anthology reminds us that poets excelled at social media long before the ‘floating world’ of the internet.”
—Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Times (London)
“This collection will appeal to the general reader as well as the academic. Kern's impressive research and copious annotations will give the scholar plenty to digest, but the lay reader can equally delight in a collection that truly revolutionizes the schoolbook image of haiku . . . With this new collection, haiku stands poised and ready for its reintroduction to the world of literature.”