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Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Once confined to a literary elite in Japan, Haiku are now written all over the world by poets who find their combination of brevity, technical discipline and expressive content irresistible.  Dominated by four great masters - Basho, Busson, Issa and Shiki - who between them compress the gamut of human experience into the limits of seventeen syllables.  Haiku has an analogy with Chinese drawings that evoke huge landscapes by a few strokes of the brush.

The moon in the water                               The water-fowl
Turned a somersault                                   Lays its beak in its breast 
and floated away                                           And sleeps as it floats 
RYOTA                                    GINKO

Early dusk:                                                    Plum-blossoms 
The mouth of the toad                              My spring
Exhales the moon.                                     In an ecstacy.
SHIKI                                                      ISSA

                                   In my medicine cabinet,
                                   the winter fly
                                   Has died of old age
                           JACK KEROUAC [Author of 'On The Road']

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POETRY: Osip Mandelstam