Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson

Yosa Buson, W.S. Merwin, Takako Lento, trans.

From master translator W.S. Merwin comes Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson, the first complete bilingual translation of the entire Buson Kushu (Buson Collection, 1899), a comprehensive collection of the haiku of Yosa Buson (1716–83), originally published in Japan in the mid-eighteenth century. Merwin and Takako Lento worked for nearly a decade to translate these poems, filled with resonant philosophical inquiry and wisdom about the natural world, in an English as luminous as the original Japanese.
In an invaluable “Note from the Translators,” Takako Lento describes Buson as “a major artist as well as a master poet, and his artist’s powers of observation are evident in his verse. He is uniquely carefree and unbound by convention, creating the realities of life with immediacy and warmth.” Also including notes and commentary on the context of the poems and the collaboration process along with source notes for those interested in delving deeper,
Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson is an essential addition to the world’s canon of great writing.

ISBN: 9781556594267

Format: Paperback

About the Author

Today the haiku master Yosa Buson (1716–1783) is regarded as one of the greatest Japanese poets. Yet for a century after his death his work was in eclipse, overshadowed by the fame and popularity of Bashō. That all changed with Masaoka Shiki’s treatise Haiku Poet Buson (1896, revised 1899), in which he analyzed Buson’s haiku, in part, from the viewpoint of modern realism. Shiki acknowledged Bashō’s “reputation as the incomparable haiku poet.” Then he made the startling declaration that Buson …

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About the Translator

W.S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and was United States Poet Laureate in 2010. He graduated from Princeton University in 1948, where he studied with John Berryman and R.P. Blackmur. From 1949 to 1951 he worked as a tutor in France, Mallorca, and Portugal; for several years afterward he made the greater part of his living by translating from French, Spanish, Latin, and Portuguese. His first book of poetry, A Mask for Janus (1952) was selected …

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About the Translator

Takako Lento’s Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson, a collaborative translation with W.S. Merwin, received the 2013–14 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize. Takako Lento won the same prestigious prize in 2018–19 for her translations of Kaneko Mitsuharu in Pioneers of Modern Japanese Poetry, a bilingual collection of four major poets with introductory and critical essays. Her other books of translated modern Japanese poetry and criticism include World Without Words by Tamura Ryuichi; The Colors of Poetry: Essays in Classic Japanese Verse by …

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“Lovers of haiku will rejoice at the arrival of this book, the first complete translation of the collected haiku of Yosa Buson… rendered into English with obvious care and devotion… Through Buson we realize what haiku is best at expressing—this moment’s experience, bare facts, simple observations, elegant statements of ‘thus-ness.'” —Inquiring Mind

“Having W.S. Merwin and Takako Lento as co-translators of this book is close to ideal, and this is the best English translation of haiku that has ever been published. Their English translations are accurate and poetic and there is nothing better for introducing this great poet.” —Donald Keene, Anahorish Japanese Literature


Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, 2013-14