Blyth, R. H. Eastern Culture. Vol. 1 in Haiku. 4th ed. Tokyo: Hokuseido Press, 1990. Discusses Issa in the context of the spiritual origins of haiku in Zen Buddhism and other Eastern spiritual traditions. Sees Issa as the poet of destiny, who saw his own tragic experiences as part of the larger motions of fate. Also interprets him both as a poet within Japanese culture and as a poet of universal appeal.
_______. From the Beginnings Up to Issa. Vol. 1 in A History of Haiku. 1963. Reprint. Tokyo: Hokuseido Press, 1973. Devotes four chapters to Issa, presenting Issa’s work in chronological order, ending in the haiku of Issa’s old age. Includes interpretations of Issa’s work plus examples of his portrayals of plants and the small creatures of the earth and of meaningful personal incidents, such as the deaths of his wife and children. Compares and contrasts him with the great haiku poet Bash.
Issa. Autumn Wind Haiku: Selected Poems by Kobayashi Issa. Translated by Lewis Mackenzie. New York: Kodansha International, 1999. This volume was originally published as Autumn Wind in 1957. The translator provides an informative introduction to a selection of Issa’s haiku. Mackenzie assesses Issa’s contributions to the haiku form, includes a detailed narrative of Issa’s often troubled life, and comments on individual haiku. Includes both English translations of the poems and phonetic Japanese versions.
Kato, Shichi. A History of Japanese Literature: The Modern Years. Vol. 3. Translated by Don Sanderson. New York: Kodansha International, 1990. Includes a short chapter on Issa as a realistic, down-to-earth poet of everyday life and in the context of the Japanese society of the time.
Ueda, Makoto. Dew on the Grass: The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa. Boston: Brill, 2004. A biography of Issa that incorporates his poetry and modern Japanese scholarship. In the preface, Ueda notes that Issa has had a marked influence on Japanese poets and novelists but is viewed as less skilled than Buson and Bash by Japanese scholars.
Yasuda, Kenneth. Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in English, with Selected Examples. Rutland, Vt.: Charles E. Tuttle, 1994. References to Issa and samples of his work in the context of a thorough analysis of the theory and practice of haiku.