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Haiku Explained

Updated on March 5, 2017

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum - Osaka Japan
Chrysanthemum - Osaka Japan | Source

Haiku


I enjoy reading and writing poetry of all kinds and have written a few haiku that I'd like to share with you. My poems are written in the 5-7-5 Japanese pattern. I have discovered there are many varied styles and patterns of haiku in English.

Writing Haiku

Since I have posted some of my poems online, some have enjoyed them and have asked me to comment on their efforts. I am humbled by these requests and am always willing to share what I know and encourage the writing efforts of anyone who is inspired by my writing. The exciting thing about Internet writing is that people can exchange ideas on any topic in a freeing way, without judgment. This exchange helps us all improve and grow as persons and in our writing. I present this basic guide to haiku.

One person shared his haiku with me and this was my response.

“You shared some haiku with me which I liked and commented on. I sent information about the 5-7-5 syllabic structure based on the Japanese style. I have discovered since then there are different styles of haiku. There is English haiku which is written 10–14 syllables. These practitioners believe this is closer to the Japanese language syllabic system than 5-7-5 in English. Some write English haiku 2-3-2 or 2-2-2 pattern."

"Others write in a freer form. If you are happy with your poems, they would probably be acceptable as haiku. Personally, I would try to stick to a format of some kind to write haiku. In any event, the poems you have written are just that--poems. Be proud of what you write, try to improve each time, and keep on writing!”

Matsuo Bashō

Matsuo Bashō
Matsuo Bashō | Source

Definition of Japanese Haiku

Haiku (Japan)

  • Haiku is an un-rhymed Japanese poetic form.
  • It gained distinction in the 17th century, when Basho (1644 –1694), the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan (1603 and 1868) elevated it to a highly refined art.
  • Consists of three lines (tercet) of five, seven and five syllables per line, for a total of seventeen syllables.
  • The poem should be derived from nature, about nature or the natural world.
  • The poem often contains a seasonal reference.
  • The poem should embody a unique observation or insight.
  • Two simple subjects are often placed in juxtaposition and are usually separated by punctuation.
  • The poem should be short, simple, objective, clear, and often, symbolic.
  • The poem contains words that are often monosyllabic.
  • The form expresses much and suggests more in the fewest possible words.
  • Haiku remains Japan's most popular poetic form and is widely imitated in English and other languages.

Morning Tea

Morning Tea
Morning Tea | Source

A Poem By Basho

This is an example of haiku written by Basho. The translation from Japanese to English changes the 5-7-5 format.


A monk sips morning tea,
it's quiet,
the chrysanthemum's flowering.

By Matsuo Basho

Translated by Robert Hass

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/a-monk-sips-morning-tea/

Red Rose

Red Rose With Subtle Dew Drops
Red Rose With Subtle Dew Drops | Source

My Haiku - Petals

Petals red, soft touch.
Pleasant, sweet, scent, gift of love.
Thorn to prick, pained heart.

© 2013 ajwrites57
A Long




Words, Like Birds

Words Take Flight
Words Take Flight | Source

My Haiku - Poets

Poets

Poets phrasing lines,
Rhymes, rhythms, words flow skyward.
Poems, for the birds.

© 2013 ajwrites57
A Long




Frozen

My Haiku - Frozen

Frozen

Frozen face staring,
blinking answering machine.
Death called for her first.

© 2013 ajwrites57
A Long









Have You Ever Written Haiku?

Have You Ever Written Haiku?

See results

English Haiku

English haiku do not adhere to the strict syllable count found in Japanese haiku, and the typical length of haiku appearing in the main English-language journals is 10–14 syllables.

2-3-2 or 2-2-2 pattern

This website gives a clear explanation of haiku in English

http://haiku.insouthsea.co.uk/english.htm

Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright

Richard Wright's Haiku

The African-American novelist Richard Wright, composed some 4,000 haiku, 817 of which are collected in the volume Haiku: This Other World (Arcade Publishing, 1998) Wright kept to a 5-7-5 syllabic structure for most of these verses.

Whitecaps on the bay:

A broken signboard banging

In the April wind.

© 2013 AJ

Comments

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    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      I find this very interesting, if I have ever written in this format it was purely by mistake. A good read indeed, thanks

    • KrisL profile image

      KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

      Nice hub that covers a lot of information clearly and simply.

      I think you'll also like http://vanderleelie.hubpages.com/hub/japanesesimpl... and a few hubs of mine on haiku . . . pleased to meet a fellow haiku fan.

      PS - you'll want to correct a typo in the title of your third text capsule: "Definition of Japanese Hiaku" (I misspell it like that _all_ the time!)

    • ajwrites57 profile image
      Author

      AJ 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      loveofnight thanks so much for reading and commenting! I appreciate your kind comments. If you are writing poetry, keep it up!

    • ajwrites57 profile image
      Author

      AJ 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      KrisL thanks for reading and commenting! I try to keep it all simple! I'll have to read your poetry! I appreciate the correction--thanks for pointing it out!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Enjoyed this. Lovely haikus. Like the chrysanthemum.

    • ajwrites57 profile image
      Author

      AJ 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks so much Gypsy Rose Lee for commenting and the kind words.

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