Haiku Examples: What is Haiku?
With many misconceptions about haiku, more Americans seem to believe the misinformation about haiku than understand the true spirit of haiku. Those who want to learn how to create real haiku can learn a lot by examining haiku examples. First, I'll provide an overview of what haiku is. Then, please take a discerning look at these haiku examples and see how the rules relate.
What is Haiku?
Haiku are short poems that describe one moment in nature within the context of a season. The haiku poet does not judge or interpret the scene for the readers. Therefore, haiku should never contain judgment words like "best" or "beautiful" or say what the image means to them. Instead, the haiku poet describes the image and allows the readers to relate to the scene in their own way.
The season of the haiku image is an important element of the poem. A haiku poem include a seasonal reference word called a kigo. The seasonal reference does not have to be a stereotypical seasonal reference like snow or blizzard for winter. In addition to references to seasonal weather, the kigo can be the animal life or plants that are associated with the season.
Seasonal references are different depending on geographic locations and seasonal events in the location. The seasons mentioned in haiku can be shown by a crop being harvested or blooming trees. Haiku poets can be creative in their inclusion of season words. I prefer a looser translation of the kigo. I like when haiku contain a seasonal reference that's unexpected like a holiday or a point in a cycle.
An old pond!
A frog jumps in-
The sound of water.
Ballet in the air...
Twin butterflies until, twice white
They Meet, they mate
In my old home
which I forsook, the cherries
are in bloom.
The winds that blows -
ask them, which leaf on the tree
will be next to go.
First autumn morning:
the mirror I stare into
shows my father's face.
The summer river:
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water.
What about the 5-7-5 syllable count?
Americans, like myself, typically are taught in school that a haiku is a poem that is three lines and fits a syllable count of five syllables in the first and last lines and seven syllables in the middle line. This erroneous belief that haiku has to fit a 5-7-5 syllable count seems based on the structure of traditional Japanese haiku.
A traditional form of Japanese haiku was organized by "on" sounds which are not the same as English syllables. Resources say that the 17 "on" sounds in Japanese is equivalent to 12 English syllables. Many haiku poets suggest people write haiku with 14 syllables or less to capture the true spirit of haiku.
Additional Haiku Examples and Resources:
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