Samples of Haiku and Other Short Poems

Haiku, a form of Japanese Poetry

What is a haiku? Traditional Japanese haikus have 17 'on', or sounds. A Japanese haiku is written in one line, however, the English haiku is written in three-a pattern of 5-7-5 'on'. Haiku writing is often taught that 'on' has the same meaning as a syllable, but this is inaccurate. This type of poetry was originally called a hokku until the 19th century where it became a haiku.

A haiku will often reference a form of nature. It will capture the essence of the poet's intentions with only a few words, building an image and displaying a contrast between two ideas. It is an unrhymed form of poetry that encourages contemplation from the reader.

Wanting to try my hand at Haiku I contemplated the origins of this style of poetry playing with various images. Because this type of writing came from Japan I focused on two strong images that have long been associated with Japanese history.

The first is the Cherry Blossom. Cherry Blossoms are symbolic of the beauty and precariousness of the human form. It is often connected with Buddhism and the frailty of the human being transitioning from one form to another. There is a brief, but vivid, life to the blossom before its inevitable fall.

The second is the Samurai Warrior. The Samurai Warrior and warrior ways were bold, self-disciplined and as sharp as the sword they carried. One of the main characteristics associated with the Samurai Warrior is that of loyalty. Wisdom is not often associated with 'blind loyalty', which is the juxtaposition of this haiku.


Haiku: explanation of construction

The first image that came to me was that of the gentle, fragrant cherry blossom. Wanting to contrast that delicacy, I wrote the second one that evokes quite the opposite image. The last line of the Samurai Warrior was another play on contrast. Is it wise to be only strong, or is it a strong person who is also wise?


Samurai Warrior

Samurai Warrior

Bold and indestructible.

Are you also wise?


Pink Cherry Blossoms

Pink cherry blossoms

Dancing in the night’s shadows.

The moon smiles her joy.


Japanese Woman

A painting that hangs in my townhouse
A painting that hangs in my townhouse | Source

The King of Limericks

Dad with his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Dad with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. | Source

Please take this poll:

Which poem presented in this hub is your favorite?

See results without voting

LIMERICK

My father was the ‘King of Puns and Limericks’ in our household. He taught me the fun of rhyme through his nonsensical limericks. In fact I recall once getting into trouble with him because he heard me loudly chanting a not so nice limerick at a neighborhood boy whom I was not fond of. It raised a great round of laughter from the rest of the gang hanging out that day, along with my dad’s temper. I won’t repeat that here, however I have one that I will substitute instead, and one that many poker players may relate to.

Gambling

I once knew a fine, young gent,

Whose money was often spent;

He gambled away

His savings each day,

And soon had nary a cent.


The thing that I remember most about limericks is that there is a bit of truth or wisdom within the comical humor.



Mother Goose

The cow jumped over the moon...
The cow jumped over the moon... | Source

NONSENSICAL POETRY

Close to the limerick is a poem that is just for fun, not really having any deep meaning to it, but mostly rhyming words. Of course, not all nonsensical poems have to rhyme. Some are filled with made up words that sound great saying aloud…or tongue twisters that fill the page. Two children’s authors come to mind when I think of this style: Dr. Seuss, and Shel Silverstein, who wrote, among other books, Where the sidewalk ends.

In my version of the nonsensical poem I attempt to create the image of the old, honoring the era of Mother Goose.

Nursery Rhyme Time

Hey Diddle Diddle,

The Cat and the Fiddle,

Was a crazy, old nursery rhyme.


The kids would all giggle,

And then start to wiggle,

And, they all had a jolly, good time.


Snowy Fields

One of the many cotton fields I drive past on the back roads of North Carolina.
One of the many cotton fields I drive past on the back roads of North Carolina. | Source

A Poem Emerges

In one final poem example I wrote this as an exercise to see how it would develop, with the intention of letting the last word be the word that would start the next sentence. I was surprised at the outcome, after two weeks of playing with the words and letting it sit untouched before resuming the play.

I began the first draft from my travels through the back country roads in North Carolina. I regularly pass the tobacco and cotton fields and enjoyed watching the process of the cotton growing, and then being harvested. It is a far cry from the back breaking work under a grueling sun during the years of slavery. Now, machines make the work more efficient and with just a few workers. Regardless, the image of the white cotton ball atop the brown bush threw a sentence in my head that was the beginning of a poem: white cotton growing.

Draft #1, (mid-November),

White cotton growing

Growing taller every day

Day to day business,

Business going underground,

Ground to the bones.

Bone tired all the time.

Time can’t return…

Return to me my love.


Dissatisfied with the middle of the first draft I dug into the sentences, choosing other words to follow the same theme.

Draft #2

White cotton growing

Growing taller every day!

Day break brings the workers-

Workers in the fields

Fields of white become bare

Bare with me, my love

Love is like white cotton.


I quickly realized I was using the homonym for the word ‘bear’ so I had to change that line.

Draft #3

White cotton growing

Growing taller every day

Day break brings the men,

Men working the fields.

Fields of white become bare

Bare and alone is my love.

Love is like white cotton.


As the poem started to take shape, I noticed the images creating a theme that I wanted to keep: the men in the fields, the cotton bushes, etc. in comparison to the first draft where the words had no meaning relative to each other. And, in Draft #3, this gem of a sentence came forth: ‘love is like white cotton’. Like an electrical shock that ran through me I knew this was the core of the poem. The ‘rock’ had been chiseled away to reveal the sculptured piece. Here is the final draft and the completed poem:



Love is like White Cotton



Love is like white cotton

Cotton-growing taller every day!

Day break brings the men,

(Men who work the fields).

Fields of white disappear…

Disappear with me, my love.

Love is like white cotton.



Written by Denise Handlon, November 20, 2011. No portion of this original poem may be copied, printed, or reproduced in any way without the written permission of the author.


Love is like white cotton

A close up of one cotton plant.
A close up of one cotton plant. | Source

More by this Author


Comments 35 comments

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

I love the evolution of your poem, White Cotton, as well as the photographs that go with it. It's very beautiful. Also enjoyed the story about your Dad and the limericks that got you into trouble! I remember learning a few of those sketchy limericks myself and 'might have' made up a few... Nice hub to wind up the contest -- oh, unless you are staying up all night again writing...


Carmen H profile image

Carmen H 5 years ago

I will use this hub whenever I am confused about how a certain kind of poetry is : ) I enjoyed the way you played with contrast in the two poems Pink Cherry Blossom and Samurai Warrior. And Gambling is really catchy. Nice!


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas

This was a fun hub touching on all the different types of poetry. I enjoyed reading the progression of your poem, White Cotton.

In the next to the last one Bare was okay to use as long as you spoke of bare bodies, so you could be bare and alone with my love. Just a thought!


raciniwa profile image

raciniwa 5 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

i love the beauty of nature depicted in your poems...i do love haiku too but i love pastoral poems the most for nature inspires me always...it's grandeur yet simplicity always amazes me...


Charu Bhatnagar profile image

Charu Bhatnagar 5 years ago from India

I love the way you present poems, and its a learning process in many ways. I loved the "Samurai Warrior" and "Love is like White Cotton" especially.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Stephanie-thanks! I added the progression as an afterthought partially because I was also amazed at how the poem changed along the way and was very pleased that I had not settled for a first draft, which felt forced.

Carmen-:) I suppose this hub would make an easy quick reference but I bet you'd find much more thorough info on other hubs, LOL, but thanks. I appreciate your comments about the contrast in the Haiku...I don't know if I have the knack for what Haiku is about, but did manage the correct structure. I like contrast, in case you hadn't noticed, LOL Limericks are such fun...be sure to try it and if you have children, get them in on the fun as well...teaches them awareness of words.

HSB-thanks! I found it interesting when I was looking at my notes, at how it had evolved and thought it worth the share. I appreciate your comment about 'bare' but I wasn't going 'there' LOL

racinwa-thank you for sharing your thoughts about what touches you in poetry. That was very interesting and insightful. :) I think I am more with you on that then the Haiku, which is a differnt and more awkward style for me...perhaps I just feel 'clumsy' with it.

Charu-thank you! I'm so glad to know that it is helpful and informative. I think I have a teachers heart, LOL Thanks for sharing which poems you enjoyed the most. It was intersting for me to note that no one chose the Haiku poetry, but pleases me that the poem I experimented with was the one best received...I think it was my favorite.

Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm glad I added the poll. It helps me to see where the work is more or less received. Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day.


MichaelStonehill profile image

MichaelStonehill 5 years ago

Writers of poetry,

Dwelling in verses & words,

Have you ever heard the gentle silence of the wind?


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Sir MichaelStonehill-beautifully said...yes, and wrote about that as well...

http://hubpages.com/literature/Silence-A-Meditatio...

Thank you for visiting this hub. :)


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

I am learning so much about writing poetry on Hubpages and have enjoyed reading about the variations of poetry, Pink Cherry Blossoms is my favourite, I love the picture you used.

Thank you for sharing and voting up


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Movie Master-thanks for giving me that feedback-you must take the poll to add it in on the list. Thus far, no one has voted for pink, cherry blossoms, LOL

I was amazed that this painting showed up so conveniently for me to photograph! It was hanging in the hallway in the condo I rent while I am on my nursing shifts. I wrote the poem, went to work, didn't know what I was going to use and wondered about just a piece of pink paper, LOL or some other flower from a florist...as I went up the stairs my eyes caught the painting that had just recently replaced something else that was there. I had to chuckle in awe of how the universe so delightfully provides for us! Thanks for the vote, and like you-I am also learning so much here.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Denise, I came back to vote - how did I miss that! The painting is beautiful and perfect for the poems. Take care, best wishes MM


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks for voting in the poll, MM. Happy Thanksgiving.


PADDYBOY60 profile image

PADDYBOY60 5 years ago from Centreville Michigan

Very nice hub. I love learning new things.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi paddybo60-thanks for reading...me too. :) Never too old is what I have to say.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada

Denise, what a lovely hub. I liked all of the poems, and especially the last one. It was neat to see your progression -- we don't often get to see inside the mind of another writer! I liked Draft #1 of the poem, too! Thanks for sharing.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

What a refreshing hub. I love the 'Pink Cherry Blossoms. and that imagage of the japanese woman is gorgeous.

I enjoyed the way you showed us your various drafts. Did you realise that in the last line of the final draft, you could have written 'White cotten is like love' and so taken it full circle. I think your first draft was my favourite.

Thank you for sharing


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Prairieprincess, thanks for reading...sorry for the delay in my response-my w/e to work...I appreciate your feedback. :)

Hi Rosemay-Thanks for your comments. The last poem actually did go full circle, as you suggest. The pattern or form of it was to use the last word of each sentence and that was why the first and last lines match. Thanks for your feedback. :)


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Sorry Denise I wasn't clear. what I meant was that if the last ended with the word love, that would be the forst word of the first line. But I like your way best


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Smiles to you Rosemay--I KNEW there was more to your comment than what I understood. Thanks for explaining. Yes, your way would have been cool, too. :) Thanks for taking the time to come back around for some clarification.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas

Hello, Denise! Just wanted to drop by and let you know that I featured this hub in my hub luv series this week! Great job!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi HSB-Thanks! I will have to take a peak at that. It was kind of you to do this. I"m so tired...I'm still awake after working last night. Take care, D


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Thank you for this one Denise,I loved it and here's to many more to share.

Take care

Eddy.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Eiddwen-Thanks. Nice to see you here. :)


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

I think the voting was rigged! The learning and watching your mind work on the cotton poem tilted the balance in its favor. I voted for the Samurai poem because it raised the question of brawn/brave/brain; for all their loyalty and fearlessness, the adherents of that tradition of that time were proven to not have made a wise choice for the best usefulness of their lives IMHO. Delightful read. Here's one from me: continuation of "My Bonnie lies over the ocean": My Bonnie lies over the sea; My Bonnie lies with such devotion, My Bonnie even lies to me!"


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Perspycacious-you are indeed a master observer. Wonderful feedback-thank you.

In regards to "My Bonnie" LOL Cute!


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

I enjoyed your poetry lesson and your poems and lovely images Denise Handlon. I love how you found the 'bones' in the white cotton poem, quite an interesting process getting there.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks Snakeslane, for your input. It was an interesting outcome. :)


phillippeengel profile image

phillippeengel 5 years ago

Thanks for writing this informative hub, Denise! I enjoyed reading it.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi phillippeengel-you're welcome. I hope you took the poll I set up here. If not, please do. Thanks for reading. :)


Writer Fox profile image

Writer Fox 4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

A poem is a gift of words. Thank you for sharing yours.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hello Writer Fox-thank you for reading and leaving your feedback. :)


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

I appreciate hailu a lot, Japan is full of secrets!

Enjoyed your hub, voted up.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hello Mike, Thank you for your comments. There are so many beautiful things about the Japanese culture. Thanks for the vote.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Thank you for letting us in on your process. It is so interesting to me to see how writers write.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks for reading and commenting, Audrey. I'm like you...I enjoy knowing what someone else's creative process is.

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