Quirky Books: The Sound of Water translated by Sam Hamill

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Sound of Water translated by Sam Hamill

Haiku is a formal type of poetry. The verses are short and everyone believes they write excellent Haiku, yet many critics disagree. Sam Hamill translated the work of the greatest haiku writers in "the Sound of Water." Basho, Buson, Issa and other contributors exemplify haiku; however, the translation affects the final product. Happily, while attempting to keep to the form of a haiku, the translator allows for additional or fewer syllables as needed.

Poet's personality are notable with such few phrases. Basho is almost priestly, always seeking and appreciating virtue, even though a semi-Buddhist, who spent his life traveling. Buson is said to have an association with Basho, yet he is completely opposite. Issa was born over a century later. Of the poets he is the most relatable. Not as virtuous, yet concerned with the world around him, perhaps an early case of obsessive compulsive disorder.

The artwork provided by Kaji Aso is attractive; however, the printing process diminish fine lines and other aspects. The cover is much clearer, while the many of the inner illustrations are faded. I imagine they were black with other colors like red, yellow and green. Specifically yellow appears as light gray in black and white contrasts. This is unfortunate. Aso is a famous fine artist with collections in museums around the world. Despite this the poetic imagery is superb.

Whether enjoying poetry or attempting to improve the poetry you write, this book is an excellent example of relaying thoughts and images with reliability to extend interpretation beyond words. A book for everyone, the book is compact and haikus stimulate new ideas every time they are read.

Poetry Breakdown
Dragonfly Haiku by Kobayashi Issa
Journey Haiku by Matsuo Basho