Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review| One Hundred Leaves: A new annotated translation of the Hyakunin Isshu

I won this book through Goodreads and I must say I quite enjoy it.

Blue Flute’s One Hundred Leaves starts with a brief introduction to Japanese poetry and explains how this volume came to be. This introduction, though sparse, is informative and prepares you to better understand Japanese poetry. Next come the actual poems. Each one is presented first in English, then we get the Japanese Kanji and a transliteration. It is interesting to see where the poems came from and I find the characters beautiful as well. Lastly, there are literary notes that help with the interpretation of the poem. These literary notes come in very handy. They provide better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the poem really help in appreciating them.

Each poem has an accompanying piece of artwork that depicts its theme. They are wonderfully matched, some combinations seeming as though one was made for the other. Unfortunately, the artwork is also where we hit the first real drawback: the art is not named, the artist is not mentioned. The book is not in color, and I would like to look up full color versions. That’s made very hard, though, when I don’t have a name to search with. The fact that the book is in black and white in the first place is unfortunate, but I knew that it would be and I can forgive that.

As for the actual poetry, I can flip to any page and find an interesting poem. Some I contemplate more than others. There are those that I like instantly, and those that take a bit longer to appeal to me. Others never really leave much of an impression. There’s bound to be something for everyone though. Recommended for anyone interested in Japanese culture and fans of poetry in general.

See this review on: Amazon | Goodreads | Librarything | Shelfari

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