written by Mavis Pilbeam
British Museum Press | ISBN 9780714124612
Member’s price: $19.80
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This second volume of haiku focusing on the animal kingdom takes you on a journey through a single day with a variety of animal companions. The book will reproduce works by the great 17th and 18th century poets such as Basho, Buson and Issa, as well as later works by contemporary writers and novelists. The haiku form is a perfect way of capturing a moment of experience or a fleeting impression, and in this book, the impressions are strengthened and extended by the illustrations. Special is made of Utamaros exquisite Ehon mushi erabi (A Selection of Insects). The fact that this sophisticated artist chose insects for one of his most luxurious woodblock printed albums underlines the Japanese appreciation of even the most diminutive of animals, which is shown repeatedly, too, in the haiku: even fleas can be the subject of an affectionate poem. Elsewhere in the animal kingdom, horses, dogs, monkeys and a variety of birds also make good subjects. A selection of beautiful prints, hanging scroll and hand-scroll paintings illustrates these too.