Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Haiku: Background information when reading The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

A True Story

by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey X
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2010, 208 pages

    Paperback:
    Sep 2016, 208 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Megan Shaffer
Buy This Book

About this Book

Haiku

This article relates to The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Print Review

at my feet
when did you get here?
snail
- Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)

It's no coincidence that Elisabeth Tova Bailey chose Kobayashi Issa as one of several selected poets to gently ease us into the passages of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. The haiku poet's simplicity and grace complement Elisabeth Tova Bailey's quiet observations as she interprets the larger natural world through that of her tiny snail. Sometimes less is so much more, and like the mighty message of this story's small snail, haiku is a fitting medium to deepen its meaning. 

Most western school-children learn that haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that uses a three-lined format of 5-7-5 syllables. This is actually wrong on a number of counts.

Firstly, Japanese haiku are not measured in syllables but in what in English are called morae or moras (from the Latin, to linger or delay), or "on" in Japanese. A fairly complex linguisitic term, moras basically measure the emphasis or weight given to a syllable so that a short syllable would be one mora, whereas a long syllable might be two or more. So, a Japanese haiku might measure 17 moras, but far fewer syllables.

A seventeen syllable haiku written in English would likely be overly verbose, and the translation of a Japanese haiku into English would usually require fewer syllables than the original. Because the essence of haiku is in its brevity, haiku poets writing in English, and those who translate haiku from Japanese, do not tend to follow the 5-7-5 rule, so as to maintain the spare integrity of the original form.

Secondly, traditional Japanese haiku are not written on three lines but in one line, usually consisting of two pairs of sensory images relating to nature separated by a pause so that the two images contrast or complement.

While the Japanese haiku that date back centuries are truly magnificent, modern poets who are able to translate their complexities without losing content are stunning in their own right. For more on the art of haiku and those whose knowledge and translations contributed to The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, visit haikuguy.com and ahapoetry.com.

Filed under Music and the Arts

Article by Megan Shaffer

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. It originally ran in September 2010 and has been updated for the September 2016 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    Cecilia
    by K-Ming Chang
    In the first few pages of K-Ming Chang's bizarre yet engrossing novella Cecilia, Seven, the ...
  • Book Jacket: Women and Children First
    Women and Children First
    by Alina Grabowski
    After Lucy Anderson falls to her death at a high school party, no one in Nashquitten, her gloomy, ...
  • Book Jacket: Henry Henry
    Henry Henry
    by Allen Bratton
    Allen Bratton's Henry Henry chronicles a year in the life of Hal Lancaster. Readers already ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Murder at the End of the World
    The Last Murder at the End of the World
    by Stuart Turton
    The island is the only safe place left on Earth. Since a deadly fog overtook the planet, the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The Pecan Children
by Quinn Connor
Two sisters deeply tied to their small Southern town fight to break free of the darkness swallowing the land whole.
Book Jacket
Look on the Bright Side
by Kristan Higgins
From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and moving novel about life's unexpected rewards.
Win This Book
Win Bright and Tender Dark

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson

A beautifully written, wire-taut debut novel about a murder on a college campus and its aftermath twenty years later.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.