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Haiku - Golden Rules For Enjoying Poetry.

Updated on February 17, 2016

I loved the book 'The Ode Less Travelled' by Stephen Fry. In the Foreword entitled, How To Read This Book, Fry offers guidelines which have resonated with me ever since I have read it and reread it. It would not feel right or be right for me to replicate the pages but I do want to share a brief summary of the Golden Rules he offers for reading the book, and I hope it encourages you further.

Rule One - Slowly! (It's Like Eating Chocolate)

Savour every word and every line.  Reading verse can be like eating chocolate - so much more pleasurable when you allow it slowly to melt inside of you, so much less rewarding when you snap off big chunks and bolt them whole, all but untasted.  In our age, one of the glories of poetry is that it remains an art that demonstrates the virtues and pleasures of taking your time. You can never read a poem too slowly, but you can certainly read one too fast.

Read out loud. Among the pleasures of poetry is the sheer physical, sensual, textural, tactile pleasure of feeling the words on your lips, tongue, teeth and vocal chords.

Rule Two - Don't Look for Meaning

Never worry about ‘meaning’ when you are reading poems. Just as the reading of each poem takes time, so a relationship with the whole art of poetry itself takes time. Observation of Rule One will allow meaning to emerge at its own pace.

Rule Three - Ready to Write

Buy a notebook, exercise book or jotter pad and lots of pencils. Take it with you everywhere. When you are stuck in an airport, travelling by train, just doodle with words. Write, don’t type. As you learn new techniques and methods for producing lines of verse, practise them all the time.

Experience the Difference

Here are a few of my favourite haiku. Select one, read it aloud, articulate each word slowly and carefully and feel the words on your lips, tongue, teeth and vocal chords. Allow the images to present themselves to you without looking for them. Enjoy!

My dear old village

Every memory of home

Pierces like a thorn

(Issa 1762 - 1826)

Through frozen rice fields

Moving slowly on horseback

My shadow creeps by

(Basho 1644 - 1694)

In seasonal rain

Along a nameless river

Fear too has no name

(Buson 1715 - 1783)

At the ancient pond

A frog plunges into

The sound of water

(Basho 1644 - 1694)


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    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 7 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Thanks Petra, you're absolutely right, it's all about the emotion it creates. Have a great new year! Russ

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you for writing this hub and bringing some light into the “mystery” of poetry.

      Most people are intimidated by poetry; while trying too hard to find the abscond meaning of every word they miss the emotional aspect of it and that is a shame.

      Poetry may well be the essence of creative writing and the most intellectual form of it, but if it fails to create emotion than…

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 8 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi Brenda / Lorraine, thank you for coming back, really appreciate it. Russ

    • profile image

      poetlorraine 8 years ago

      hi did you realise i was Brenda, just read my words, i still agree

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 8 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Thanks Tony, I would love to see at least some haiku from you - I have no doubt about the quality. Love to you too.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      Hey Russ - what a great read! I love haiku - at least reading them. I don't think I could fit my vagabond thoughts into such a compact form, but I admire those (like you) who can!

      Love and peace


    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 8 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi Larry, I believe that one teaches what one most needs to learn. I am always reminding myself to slow down and savour the moment. I seem to succeed when playing or listening to music but have many other pursuits in which I wish it would become more natural (like eating). Thanks as always for your comments, compliments and generally cheering me up.

    • profile image

      \Brenda Scully 8 years ago


    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 8 years ago from Northern Arizona

      The Master speaketh....Thanks Russ, for reminding us all to take life a little slower, a kind of sideways glance, and letting the " essence " filter through...

      Grasshopper awaits the Master's next Haiku...

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 8 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Hi and thank you Brenda. It's amazing how often we rush some things in life that are sooooo much better when done slowly.

    • profile image

      \Brenda Scully 8 years ago

      You don't know how much I enjoyed this hub...... I agree about meanings of poetry, they can all mean different things at different times.... and slowly slowly slowly and many times, is a definate thumbs up for me????? thanks for taking the time to write this most meaningful hub... x