books / poetry

The Heart of Haiku Touched My Own Heart

Thank goodness for the uninterrupted plane ride this past week because I was finally able to finish Jane Hirshfield’s The Heart of Haiku.  It is an exquisite little book and will be joining others on my “Favorites” shelf.  Some highlights from it:

In quoting Basho:  “But unless things are seen with fresh eyes, nothing’s worth writing down.”

When the space between poet and object disappears, Basho taught, the object itself can begin to be fully perceived.  Through this transparent seeing, our own existence is made larger.

To read a haiku it so become its co-author, to place yourself inside its words until they reveal one of the proteus-shapes of your own life.

Art can be defined as beauty able to transcend the circumstances of its making.

One useful way to approach a haiku is to understand each of its parts as pointing toward both world and self.

Feeling within ourselves the lives of others (people, creatures, plants, and things) who share this world is what allows us to feel as we do at all.


There is so much about haiku I didn’t know, and I am sure I still don’t know.  I look forward to learning more and writing more of it.  I will end this blog with a question and a haiku:

What is your favorite haiku and why?

Year after year,
the monkey’s face
wears a monkey’s mask
 – Basho, translated by Jane Hirshfield


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