Short and Sweet: Haiku for Four Seasons
Llanberis High Street Early on a Spring Morning
Earth spins more quickly,
open wide spring morning’s sash,
totter on frail pins.
This haiku comments on the feeling of frailty one has as an older adult, and contrasts that feeling with the ever-busier world and with the energetic embrace of life as felt by those physically younger and stronger. Contrast is clear between the excitement and outpouring of energy in a spring morning and the weakness of an aging body, especially when first arising.
Unyielding sun’s scorch
reflects the sound of children
yelling as they play.
This haiku compares the screams of children at play to the intense blast of the summer sun. While I certainly remember with pleasure playing as a child, I wrote this a few years ago after miserably enduring hours of screaming games played by neighborhood children in the complex's swimming pool, which unfortunately was just outside the window at my apartment. The intensity of both the sun and playing children during their summer vacation expresses one side of the season of summer.
Lethargy and the
slow, hot autumn night falling
leave me no escape.
Indian Summer means autumn days that stay warm into evening. Despite the approach of cooler weather, one sometimes remains awake and restless into the autumn evening. The idea of "no escape" refers to the position of having to take responsibility for one's insomnia, irritability, needs, and desires when uncomfortable long into evening.
Snowflakes whiter than
blossoms of Edelweiss fall—
the mountain’s cold tears.
The contrast between the lovely sweet Edelweiss flowers of the Alps and the notion of frozen tears is the heart of this poem. If raindrops are tears, snowflakes are simply frozen tears. Additional contrast is formed between the soft, light flowers and snowflakes and the solid hardness of the mountain.
Traditionally, haiku do not have titles since 1) they should be minimal and 2) since the poems themselves should be strong enough to be self-explanatory--no titles needed.
Teaching Haiku Writing
Haiku is a wonderful form of poetry that originated in Japan. Traditional Japanese haiku differs in some ways from the more relaxed modern international form of haiku. Writing modern haiku is rather easy to teach since its form is simple and clear and since most people can easily feel and imagine connections between nature and human experience.
According to Michael Dylan Welch, in a 2003 article, "Ten Tips for Writing Haiku," (http://www.haikuworld.org/begin/mdwelch.tentips.html) published online at haikuworld.org , the author of a haiku should follow ten guidelines, number four being, "Write about common, everyday events in nature and in human life; choose events that give you a moment of understanding or realization about the truth of things around you—but don’t explain them" (par.3).
Welch's "Tips" are excellent, but vary somewhat here and there from traditional rules of haiku. He doesn't mention in the "Tips," for example, the traditionally-essential kareji (cutting word) that "resonates and causes the poem to split or end reflectively" ("What is Haiku?" par. 8). While a kareji is not required in modern international haiku, the original Japanese form was absolutely strict.
Here is a link to an online resource for teaching haiku writing to students in grades 3-5:
Welch, Michael Dylan. "Ten Tips for Writing Haiku." haikuworld.org . N.p. 28 Feb. 2011. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.
"What is Haiku?" haikujournal.org. N.p. N. d. Web. 5. Nov. 2011.
Here's a Beautiful Short Tutorial on Writing Haiku
To Write Haiku Well, Read Haiku
- haikuworld: bringing haiku poets, haiku readers and haiku publishers together!
(updated February 28, 2011). Haikuworld is dedicated to bringing haiku poets, haiku publishers and haiku readers together. Information on haiku books, haiku magazines, and haiku contests. Discuss selected haiku books.
- Shamrock Haiku Journal
An international quarterly online journal that publishes quality haiku, senryu and haibun in English
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