Western Poets Using Haiku

While many Japanese haiku have been translated into English, with varying degrees of success, there are Western poets now attempting the genre. Far too many of the resulting poems are quite bad, or miss the point of the genre, or actually clever senryu rather than haiku . However, we have had some successes. Here are some Western poets who have either captured the essence of the original haiku , or who have adapted the tradition in unusual but effective ways.

James Kirkup: (contemporary)

In the amber dusk
Each island dreams its own night--
The sea swarms with gold.

Michael R. Collings (contemporary)

Freeway overpass--
Blossoms in graffiti on
Fog-wrapped June mornings.

Scott Alexander (early twentieth century)

By an ancient pond
A bullfrog sits on a rock:
Waiting for Bashó.

Joy Shieman (contemporary)

Two leaning tombstones
Took seventy years to touch--
Mist and peace dwell there.

James W. Hackett (contemporary)

Half of the minnows
Within this sunlit shallow
Are not really there.

Deep within the stream
The huge fish lie motionless
Facing the current.

Two flies, so small
It's a wonder they ever met,
Are mating on this rose.

This garter snake
Goes in and out of the grass
All at the same time!


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