Haiku of Masaoka Shiki


Masaoka Shiki
* Books of Poetry. * Voice. * Haiku Reform. * Tanka Reform. * Time Line.

Books of Poetry (alphabetical)

Masaoka Shiki: His Life and Works
by Masaoka Shiki, translated by Janine Beichman

Buy 'Masaoka Shiki: His Life and Works'

Masaoka Shiki: Selected Poems
translated and introduced by Burton Watson


Voice: aspects of the haiku of Masaoka Shiki

Watson says that Shiki wrote more than 25,000 haiku. Different translators (Beichman, Blyth, Watson) mostly choose to translate different haiku, on the order of 100 each.

Some features of his haiku:

Haiku reform

These features of the short poem were not challenged by Shiki (though some later poets have abandoned them):

When Shiki began writing haiku, most haiku being written were satire, wordplay, or vulgarity. Shiki:

Tanka samples


    some persimmons
    were sweet,  
    some bitter —
    those with a trace of bitterness
    were better, yes better, in taste!
	
	[1897. Translated by Shinoda and Goldstein.]

Tanka reform

Brilliant book with a 126-page introduction.

Shiki's tanka arranged by year stating with some of his earlier tanka like this written in 1897: .

Time Line

Based predominantly on data in Burton Watson's translation of Masaoka Shiki's Collected Poems.

1600
Start of Edo period.

1644
Birth of Matsuo Bashō. He would become the first poet to compose independent hokku (or in Shiki's term, haiku).
Shiki would become critical of Bashō's haiku.

1694
Death of Matsuo Bashō.

1714
Birth of Yosa Buson.

1763
Birth of Kobayashi Issa.

1783
Death of Yosa Buson.

1827
Death of Kobayashi Issa.

1867
Birth of Masaoka Shiki.
End of Edo period.

1868
Meiji Restoration. The abolition of feudalism in the next years impoverished many samurai, including his father.

1870
Birth of his sister, Ritsu.

1872
Death of his father.

1883
Goes to Tokyo, aided by an uncle

1884
Approximate start of his writing poems in haiku form.

1889
Coughs up blood, showing first sign of infection by tuberculosis. Although this would kill him in 1902, he resists it strongly.

1890
Enters Tokyo University literature department.

1891
Begins self-education in the history of the form of haiku and starts developing his Haiku bunrui (Classified Collection of Haiku).

1892
Withdraws from Tokyo University literature department, to devote full time to creative work.
Becomes haiku editor of Nippon, where he will publish his own haiku and those of others.
Begins haiku reform.

1893
haiku: A carp leaps up.

1894
Outbreak of Sino-Japanese War.
haiku: Always someone resting there.

1895
Arrives in China as a War correspondent, but reaches after the outbreak of Sino-Japanese War.
Hospitalized on his return. The tuberculosis has settled into his spine, causing pain and making it very difficult to walk.

1896
haiku: Swatting mosquitoes.

1897
haiku: After I'm dead.
tanka: some persimmons

1898
Began an project to reform tanka similar to the way that he had reformed haiku.

1899
Publishes Haijin Buson, influential study of haiku poet Yosa Buson.
haiku: I think I'll die.

1900
Begins study of Manyô'shû.

1902
Death of Masaoka Shiki. Masaoka Shiki: His Life and Works (new version 2002; first published ).

1982
First publication of Janine Beichman's translation of Masaoka Shiki's work: Masaoka Shiki: His Life and Works.

1997
Publication of Burton Watson's translation of Masaoka Shiki's Collected Poems.

2002
Revised publication of Janine Beichman's translation of Masaoka Shiki's work: Masaoka Shiki: His Life and Works; first published .

Links and Books.

Links and Books.

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