The River of Heaven: The Haiku of Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki

The River of Heaven The Haiku of Basho Buson Issa and Shiki Known to many as the study of quiet stillness and introspection Zen Buddhism distinguishes itself through brilliant flashes of insight and its terseness of expression In River of Heaven these concept

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  • Title: The River of Heaven: The Haiku of Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki
  • Author: Robert Aitken
  • ISBN: 9781582437101
  • Page: 145
  • Format: Paperback
  • Known to many as the study of quiet stillness and introspection, Zen Buddhism distinguishes itself through brilliant flashes of insight and its terseness of expression In River of Heaven these concepts and pillars lend themselves to an exploration of Haiku, one of the most delicate and interpretive poetic forms in the world The haiku verse form, with its rigid structureKnown to many as the study of quiet stillness and introspection, Zen Buddhism distinguishes itself through brilliant flashes of insight and its terseness of expression In River of Heaven these concepts and pillars lend themselves to an exploration of Haiku, one of the most delicate and interpretive poetic forms in the world The haiku verse form, with its rigid structure and organic description is a superb means of studying Zen modes of thought because its seventeen syllables impose a limitation that confines the poet to vital experience In Haiku as in Buddhism, the silences are as expressive as the words.In this volume, American Senior Zen Roshi Robert Aitken gives new insight into Haiku by poetic masters Basho, Issa, Buson, and Shiki In presenting themes from Haiku and from Zen literature, Aitken illuminates the relationship between the two Readers are certain to find this an invaluable and enjoyable experience for the remarkable revelation it offers.

    One thought on “The River of Heaven: The Haiku of Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki”

    1. How can I give such a poor rating to a book of haiku? I love haiku. This book is a collection of haiku by Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki. Each page has a title, a haiku in Romaji, an English translation, and a brief commentary by Robert Aitken. So what’s not to like? Well, my first twinge of frustration came when I could not determine whether these haiku were translated by Aitken or not. The cover page says “selected and with comments by Robert Aitken.” That suggests that Aitken is not the [...]

    2. The variance in translations of the four Haiku masters usually makes any book on their best pieces interesting.Aitken’s, River of Heaven, adds to this interest the insight of a western Zen teacher, so the reader has not only the pleasure of reading old favourites (perhaps slightly altered) but of reading a Zen infused short commentary on each.While I found some of these commentaries a little light on content and some of them drew what I feel was a long bow in terms of interpreting the poets in [...]

    3. This volume of haiku is very enjoyable. Aitken provides shortnotes after each poem to describe context and custom which enrichthe reader's appreciation. A good selection from each of thesehaiku masters. I recommend it highly.

    4. Poem selection is average. Aesthetically, the translations are merely passable. (At one point he quote's Amy Lowell's version of a Buson poem, which only serves to have his appear inferior.) But the real problem here are the notes.Whether it requires it or not, each poem is accompanied by a paragraph or more of only marginally useful notes. Well, notes is probably not entirely correct, as that would suggest that they help to explain the meaning of obscure terms or references. Sometimes, perhaps [...]

    5. The selections themselves are wonderful; as evocative and stirring as you would expect from these masters of the form. But the real treat here is the commentary. Aitken's selections are personal, and he treats their exegesis with similar subjectivity. Much is given in the way of historical and literary context (of which Aitken displays expert familiarity), but many of his comments are related directly back to his own situation. I found these moments of critical candor, rather than distracting fr [...]

    6. I really want to get this bookwill give review once I finallly have had the immense pleasure of reading the haiku of the masters.Okay:The selection of haiku was average, and the commentary just reworded the haiku. THis destroyed the "moment" for me. The only useful aspects of the author's intrusions was to provide a biography of the poets. Too biasedI din't care how the poems relate to Mr. Aitken, I bought the book for haiku. I would recommend buying Haiku: An Anthology of Japanese Poems instead [...]

    7. Wonderful poetry of course, but I found the commentary very variable. At its best it explicates the background to Japanese terms that don't translate well. At its worst it's irritating: Haiku as a form is all about suggestion - to offer a paragraph of fanciful extrapolation from the poem's conceit is rather missing the point.

    8. After listening to a Mary Pope Osborne story which included Basho, the Japanese Haiku writer and teacher, we sought out books with his poetry. This book is a wonderful collection of poems with commentary providing context and explanation of what we are reading and how it came to be. A lovely collection with wonderful guidance.

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