Haiku / Monoku - what's a poet to do?
Many of us here on Hub Pages write haiku - a Japanese haiku poetic form in English. Haiku can be written just on its own or can be accompanied by a photo or image. Many times then it is called a haiga. But, the traditional haiku still remains the favorite of so many poets.
The haiku in English is a short poem, a 'cutting', of usually two images about the essence of experiences of nature or season that is intuitively linked to the human condition. It is a composed of three lines with a total of seventeen syllables in the poem:
- line 1 - five syllables
- line 2 - seven syllables
- line 3 - five syllables
The haiku also uses a caesura (a pause) respresented by punctuation, a space, or a line break to compare the two images.
A good haiku uses an economy of words to paint a multi-tiered image (picture) and usually 'shows' the reader an image rather than 'tells' about the subject.
One of the best known Japanese haiku was written by the Japanese master, Matsuo Basko (1644-1694) and translated into English:
at the age old pond
a frog leaps into water
a deep resonance ~ Matsuo Basko
Tradition reigned in haiku writing until the 1970s when a variant to the haiku was invented. It became known as the monoku.
The monoku is a one-line poem variation of the haiku. Three writers of poetry in the 1970s made the monoku popular as a form of haiku. They are:
- Marlene Mountain who wrote monoku in horizontal line
- Hiroaki Sato who translated Japanese haiku into one line in English. Sometimes that line is in vertical rather than horizontal form
- Matsuo Allard wrote essays in favor of the monoku form and published several magazines devoted to the form
Monoku is written as a single line which contains seventeen syllables or less. It includes a caesura (a pause) dictated by a sense or speech rhythm with little or no punctuation. The first word in the line is not capitalized and is in lowercase.
pig and I -- spring rain ~ Marlene Mountain
an icicle -- a moon drifting through it. ~ Matsuo Allard
listen to the pause - silence is golden ~ www.monoku-ichthys.blog
she knew of longing - this dream of love, alone ~ Jack Jordan, Poetry Soup
Monoku can also be written in a sequence as haiku sometimes is written also. Example:
a peramulator arrives - emptiness takes its leave
a quietness descendes - fresher terms opens
room-to-let illumes - emptiness returns
~ Marlene Mountain
As you can see, this is stripping the haiku down to its bare essence. A one line poem is about as economical as a poet can get. Yet, even with this short and economical poem ,the writer is still able to produce an image - a picture in the reader's mind. The reader is left with several ways to interpret this 'mini-poem' and several explanations are possible.
View the photos below and write your own monoku to go with them!
Below are the same photos with monoku underneath written by suzettenaples: