Reading a bulk of haiku at once helped me to get a general appreciation for the format. I enjoy the clear but succinct image that three short lines are able to conjure. The volume I enjoyed (Haiku, selected and edited by Peter Washington and published by Everyman’s Library Pock Poets series) included mostly Japanese classic haiku (for about 200 pages), with a few Western style haiku as well for the remaining 50 pages. I found I related better to the Western style haiku, I think because the images were more familiar to me: Japanese traditions of snow fall, flower blossoms, and so forth seemed foreign, rather than calming.
Reading haiku in an anthology is probably not the best approach: each poem is written to be pondered on an individual level at its own pace. Each poem deserves attention. The Everyman’s volume was arranged essentially by subject, with six haiku on each two-page spread. As such, I read through them quickly, even when I tried to pace myself.
Here is one of my favorite of the Japanese haiku:
From what flowering tree
I know not,
But ah, the fragrance!
And then my favorite from the Western haiku was by Wordsworth, whose sappiness I admit that I really enjoy.
By a mossy stone,
Half hidden from the eye.
And I think it may be permissible to show my poetry shelf. I am collecting the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets one volume at a time. I order them by color because I think it is so pretty. I don’t use the dust jackets. (For the most part I buy the books used and they don’t come with a dust jacket. Even when I do have the dust jacket, I admit I love the pretty colors of the books, so I won’t use them anyway.)
The Everyman’s are the short, colorful volumes in the middle of the shelf. My first was the Wordsworth (light green, looks yellow in the picture) and my latest are the Haiku (grey, which I bought last month) and Love Letters (white, which I found on Paperbackswap a week or so ago).