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Historical Haiku

Updated on November 18, 2008

Haiku are a form of Japanese poetry, with a maximum number of seventeen 'on', or what we think of as syllables, in a 5-7-5 syllabic pattern. They are most familiar as three line poems, but are also written as one horizontal line, separated by a slash or dash. Since the 'on' are sound units, rather than syllables, Japanese haiku are often shorter than those created in English. Wikipedia has a good explanation of this difference. Knowing this gives one more leeway in creating a haiku. 

True haiku has no title, no rhyme, no metric rhythm, just a Zen-like expression of feelings, precisely focused. Less is more. Authentic Japanese Haiku appeared in the 1400's, but Matsuo Basho (1644-94) is regarded by many Japanese as their finest exponent of haiku.

Traditionally, haiku express feelings through nature, seasonal references and contrasts. Each poem is meant to be evocative of an emotion or a feeling.  


So, Let's Haiku

Here's the challenge: create an original haiku, following the 5-7-5 patterning. Follow the traditional 'natural' theme, or let your imagination run wild.

Here's mine, for starters:

Golden leaves drift down/ Changing to brown as they lie/ Life springs from them soon.

Ravens swoop and soar, Chasing each other all day. Mating season now. 


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