Basho on the road By Mark McGuinness 2 Comments Fleas, lice and a horse pissing next to my pillow! via Basho
Edmund Pickett says
Since you obviously like Basho I wondered if you knew there is an alternate way to translate haiku into English. Harold Stewart, in his book “A Net of Fireflies,” translates haiku by different authors into rhymed couplets. His reasoning is simple: we don’t count syllables in English poetry. Why not use the shortest English form to translate the shortest Japanese form? This gives you 20 syllables in English compared to the 17 in Japanese, but translations are usually a bit longer. You may be horrified at the concept but don’t dismiss it until you read Stewart’s work. It may be hard to find a copy of the book. The original hardback edition is gorgeous and includes 33 haiku paintings. Don’t settle for a later paperback version. Stewart also includes a very informative essay. Also, half of the links on your Basho page are dead.
Mark McGuinness says
“You may be horrified at the concept but don’t dismiss it until you read Stewart’s work.” – I must admit I am horrified! There’s a huge difference between the look and feel (and sound) of the haiku form and that of the rhymed couplet. Just because they are both short, it doesn’t make them equivalent. (Plus, the rhymed couplet is rarely treated as a form in itself; couplets are usually strung together to make longer forms.)
Having said that, you’re right that I should see the book before passing judgment. His couplets may well be of intrinsic interest, regardless of how accurate/useful they are as translations.
The broken links should be fixed now.