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Haiku meaning and examples

Updated on August 24, 2013

One way of writing your own poetry is to imitate the structure of the Japanese haiku. The Haiku is a tiny verse-form in which the Japanese poets have been working for hundreds of years. The haiku is a simple but subtle little poem of seventeen syllables.


The fierce wind rages 
And I see how trees survive 
They have learned to bend.  
The lonely raindrop
Hurtling silently downwards
Slices humid air.

The Haiku Form

  1. A haiku is unrhymed.

  2. It is three lines long.

  3. It has 17 syllables in all : line 1 has 5 syllables - line 2 has 7 syllables - line 3 has 5 syllables.

  4. It is always written in the present tense

  5. It contains strong visual images.

  6. It captures a fleeting moment usually to do with nature or the seasons

  7. It uses very few words while suggsting a great deal.

Haiku is not expected to be always a complete or even a clear statement. The reader is supposed to add to the words his own associations and imagery and thus to become a co-creator of his own pleasure in the poem.

I have compiled some of my favourite Japanese Haiku. I hope that you will enjoy them as much I enjoy putting them together.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Click thumbnail to view full-size

Haiku Writers

  • Basho (1644-1694) - One of the greatest of haiku writers. In his later years he was a student of Zen Buddhism and his later poems which are his best express the rapturous awareness in the mystical philosophy of the identity of life in all its forms. With this awareness, Basho immersed himself in even the tiniest things and with religious fervor and sure craftmanship converted them into poetry. He was loved by his followers and other poets. His Zen philosophy has been perpetuated in later haiku.
  • Buson (1715-1783) - He was a little more sophisticated and detached than his predecessor and an equally exquisite writer.
  • Issa (1763-1827) - He was less poetic but more lovable than Basho and Buson. His tender, witty haiku about his dead children, his bitter poverty, his little insect friends, endear him to every reader.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

I have made a powerpoint presentation about Haiku, but since I cannot post it as powerpoint I have made them as pictures.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

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    • KrisL profile image

      KrisL 5 years ago from S. Florida

      I love how you found such lovely graphics to go with the haiku.

      I linked to this hub in my new one, What is a Haiga? (a haiku + picture), which I hope you'll enjoy.

      (Also voted "beautiful" and shared)

    • Godslittlechild profile image

      Godslittlechild 8 years ago

      I enjoyed this hub very much. Haiku is one of my favorite types of verse.

    • MM Del Rosario profile image

      MM Del Rosario 8 years ago from NSW, Australia

      Hi All,

      Thank you very much for visiting my haiku hub, I enjoy putting this hub together I am glad you like it ......God Bless.


    • KJRaider profile image

      KJRaider 8 years ago

      Worderful I love the photos too. you did a great job. Keep up the grand work. My computer has been down for 3 weeks so I have not been able to keep up.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I was going to write a hub just like this one, but you beat me to it! I'm not going to try now, seeing that you did such a great job with this. Thanks!

    • Aqua profile image

      Aqua 8 years ago from California

      Perfect timing for me to find this hub. I have to write some Haikus for a class and this info will help me - I am bookmarking it. Thanks!

    • shamelabboush profile image

      shamelabboush 8 years ago

      Very sensitive kind of poetry. Thanks.