This is a gem of a book, easily digested with a cafetiere of coffee, in about 45 minutes. It gives a delightful introduction to haiku through its developments as a Japanese Art Form (even a competitive one) in the Seventeenth Century, where Basho took it ‘on tour’ in his quest for Zen, and a simplification of life. Basho gathered fame, which bogged him down, and tucked himself away from his ‘fans’, until the morning glories sealed his gate. After a few months, he was ready to emerge.
Hirshfield’s account is peppered with illustrations of haiku, and I was left with a feeling of having stumbled across one of the best haiku books – and a lasting inspiration to try them out for myself.