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Haiku Heaven

Updated on September 21, 2013

Haiku says a lot with a little . . .

haiku verse are short

distillations of beauty

with weightless punch lines

Below you'll find a little history about three historical haiku-ists and examples of their work, information on contemporary haiku with examples, several miscellaneous samples of haiku, haiku resources and associations, and more.

Haiku: A Relatively New Form of Poetry

The term hokku means "starting verse." Hokku was the starting link of a much longer chain of verses called haika. The hokku set the tone for the verses that followed. It was not uncommon for a poet to compose a hokku by itself with no following verses.

In the 1890s, the hokku was established as an independent verse called haiku (largely through the efforts of Masaoka Shiki). The haiku is considered complete in itself.

art above: gregg_r_1999 / photobucket

Any proceeds from this lens go to the National Wildlife Federation

Haiku for Everyone

Headline Haiku 2007
Headline Haiku 2007

For a news junkie . . .

Homeowner Haiku
Homeowner Haiku

For a housewarming gift . . .



Temple bells die out.

The fragrant blossoms remain.

A perfect evening!

~Basho, Matsuo ~

Matsuo Basho - 1644 - 1694

In childhood, he was called Kinsaku. The name Basho (banana tree) was adopted around 1681 after moving into a hut with a banana tree next to it. He was called Matsuo Munefusa in his later days.

Basho's father was a low-ranking samurai (Iga Province). Basho serviced for the local lord, Todo Yoshitada (Sengin), to become a samurai. It turns out Yoshitada liked to write haikai, and in his service, Basho began writing poetry with the pen name Sobo.

Basho was a travel junkie, taking many trips throughout Japan. He died while on a trip, in Osaka. It seems Basho had haiku and travel on his mind even then. His last haiku says:

Fallen sick on a journey,

In dreams I run wildly

Over a withered moor.

Five of Basho's

Polished and polished

clean, in the holy mirror

snow flowers bloom

Gray hairs being plucked,

and from below my pillow

a cricket singing

Nothing in the cry

of cicadas suggest they

are about to die

How very noble!

One who finds no satori

in the lightning-flash

With dewdrops dripping,

I wish somehow I could wash

this perishing world

A Pleasant Diversion

Review . . .

"Haiku: Poety Ancient and Modern" makes a pleasant diversion from the stresses of daily life. It is also a nice way to fill the commercials in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buy it. Put it on your coffee table. Enjoy it. (S. Holland)

Haiku: Poetry Ancient & Modern
Haiku: Poetry Ancient & Modern

This is a gorgeously illustrated anthology of over 200 poems from 100 of the best haiku poets in America and around the world, as well as translations of the Japanese masters. The poems range in time from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, and follow the elemental themes of earth, air, fire, water, wood and metal. This exquisite collection of haiku is a joyful read for anyone, whether new to haiku or looking to expand their collection. (amazon product description)


The whole world's in on it . . .

Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac
Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac

This unique anthology contains over one thousand haiku and related poems by more than six hundred poets living in fifty countries and writing in twenty-five languages, presented in both English and their original languages. It demonstrates how a tradition begun hundreds of years ago in Japan has now become international. These highly condensed poems often hinge on words or phrases connected with nature; Japanese anthologies have traditionally been arranged by these seasonal themes and included explanations of them. Haiku World is the first book in another language to follow this structure - with explanations of seasonal phenomena from countries, cultures, and environments on every inhabited continent. (amazon product description)



the Moon on the night of the 16th -

whales showed up for the first time

Kumano Bay.

~ Buson, Yosa ~

Yosa Buson - 1716 - 1784

Yosa Buson was born in the village of Kema in Settsu Province in 1716. He was a poet and a painter, and along with Basho and Issa, Buson is revered as a great poet of the Edo period.

Buson moved to Edo (now Tokyo) around the age of 20 and studied poetry with haikai master Hayano Hajin. Buson moved to Shimo-Usa Province after Hajin died. Like Matsuo Basho, Buson traveled northern Honsho (the inspiration for Basho's famous travel diary, The Narrow Road to the Deep North).

After extensive traveling, Buson put down roots in Kyoto. He was 42, and began writing under the pen name of Yosa.

When 45, Buson put on the ball and chain. He had one daughter named Kuno. Buson taught, and continued writing, in Kyoto. After 1770 he wrote under the name Yahantei (Midnight Studio), the same name his teacher, Hayano Hajin, had used.

Buson died at age 68, and was buried in Kyoto.

Five of Buson's

Rain falls on the grass,

filling the ruts left by

the festival cart

Sweet springtime showers

and know words can express

how sad it all is

Utter aloneness,

another great pleasure

in autumn twilight

By flowering pear

and by the lamp of the moon

she reads her letter

When a heavy cart

comes rumbling along

peonies tremble

Soup and Sandwich . . . Haiku and Watercolors

Haiku 5-7-5: Haiku & Watercolor
Haiku 5-7-5: Haiku & Watercolor

In "Haiku 5-7-5" artist and poet Daniel Burch Fiddler creates a fusion of stunning images and deep poetic insights. His delicate strokes of watercolor art, alongside his bold thoughts fashioned into the classic haiku structure of three lines, seventeen syllables, lead us into glimpses of nature that enrich our spirit and our love for the world around us. (amazon product description)


Haiku with Pics

Haiku Africa: Haikus and Photographs
Haiku Africa: Haikus and Photographs

Wild animals in their native environment, beautiful plants, colorful flowers, lizards, and a variety of incredible birds, interesting people and . . . haiku that captures the authors feelings about them.



buckwheat flowers

hidden in the mountains -

the Moon on the 13th Night

~ Issa, Kobayashi ~

Kobayashi Issa - 1763 - 1828

Issa was born Kobayashi Yataro, part of a peasant family of present-day Shinanomachi, Nagano prefecture. His mother died when Issa was three and he was then in the care of his grandmother. His father remarried five years later and a half-brother to Issa was born two years after that. At the age of 14, Issa's grandmother passed away, leaving Issa a moody loner who liked wandering the fields. Apparently, the stepmother didn't care for Issa's adolescent attitude, and Issa was sent to Edo (present-day Tokyo) to make his own living at 15. The following ten years of his life is an historical blank.

Issa continued his wandering through Japan. When his father died in 1801, Issa came away with rights to half of the property his father left, in spite of his step-mother's attempt to leave him out in the cold. At 49, he returned to his native village and married Kiku. Their first-born dies shortly after birth, and also their second less than two-and-a-half years later. Issa wrote:

The world of dew --

A world of dew it is indeed,

And yet, and yet . . .

Issa lost yet another child in 1820. Kiku passed away in 1823. Twice more, Issa tied the knot. According to the Western Calendar, Issa died on January 5, 1828 in his native village, leaving behind a large body of writing.

Five of Issa's

People working fields

from my deepest heart, I bow.

Now a little nap.

The winter fly

I caught and finally freed

the cat quickly ate

The distant mountains

are reflected in the eye

of the dragonfly

A world of dew,

and within every dewdrop

a world of struggle

Now we are leaving,

the butterflies can make love

to their hearts' desire

Basho, Buson, Issa - The 3 Haiku-teers

Basho: The Complete Haiku
Basho: The Complete Haiku

Dividing his creative output into seven periods of development, Reichhold frames each period with a decisive biographical sketch of the poets travels, creative influences and personal triumphs and defeats. Annotated notes accompany each poem; and a glossary and two indexes fill out the volume.

Haiku Master Buson (Companions for the Journey)
Haiku Master Buson (Companions for the Journey)

Haiku Master Buson is the only translation of the work of this important haiku poet in English. Buson (17161783), along with Basho and Issa, is recognized as one of the three Japanese masters of the haiku. In addition to a large selection of haiku, the book also includes a selection of Buson's prose and a critical introduction.

Autumn Wind Haiku: Selected Poems by Kobayashi Issa
Autumn Wind Haiku: Selected Poems by Kobayashi Issa

A selection of Kobayashi's poetry, often regarded as irreverent with down-to-earth humour and wit. All poems are rendered into English and romanized Japanese. A critical introduction to Issa's life and art, and introduction to Issa's life and art, and original texts of his haiku are transcribed at the end of the book.


You and Haiku

I LIKE TO . . .

See results

just five seven five

syllables to say something

that leaves one breathless

Write . . . Share . . . Teach . . .

The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku
The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku

The Haiku Handbook is the first book to give the reader everything needed to begin writing or teaching haiku.

The book presents a concise history of the Japanese haiku, including the dynamic changes throughout the twentieth century as the haiku has been adapted to suburban and industrial settings. Full chapters are offered on form, the seasons in haiku, and haiku craft, plus background on the Japanese poetic tradition, and the effect of translation on our understanding of haiku.

Other unique features are the lesson plans for both elementary and secondary school use; and lists of haiku publishers and magazines (in several languages). (amazon product description)


On the riverbank

a small boy casts his line -

the scattering clouds

~ JoanCouzens Sauer ~

Haiku Is . . .

"Haiku is more than a form of poetry; it is a way of seeing the world. Each haiku captures a moment of experience; an instant when the ordinary suddenly reveals its inner nature and makes us take a second look at the event, at human nature, at life."

~ A.C. Missias ~

Its Not All Fives and Sevens . . . - Contemporary Haiku

There is a strong tradition of 17-syllable haiku in English, particularly dating from the spurt of haiku appreciation in the 1960s. Many authors wished to respect the Japanese structure, seeing that as one of the key defining aspects of the historical form, and thus aimed their own efforts into a 5-7-5 mold.

However, the English and Japanese languages are very different in their grammar and syllabic rhythms such that the typical Japanese haiku is generally translated most directly into around 12 English syllables, with variable line lengths.

Some authors have attempted to define an alternative haiku form which would more closely approximate the length of a Japanese haiku while demanding the discipline of a set structure. Advocates of this approach often recommend guidelines of 3-5-3 syllables or 2-3-2 accented beats, as closest approximations to that goal.

autumn rain --

the weathered tire swing

overflows ~ ACM ~

Today, haiku is a flexible form for brief, vivid capture of single moments of time, the writing of which allows one to both share those "aha moments" with others and to become more open to them oneself.

From an essay by A.C. Missias

Contemporary Haiku

tea cup

on the map of Vietnam-

leaving a stain

~ Ruth Holzer ~


moonglow . . .

just me, the drunk

and his honesty

~ Tyrone McDonald ~


moon blossoms . . .

her body prepared

for viewing

~ Francine Banwarth ~


Loretta last night

and now the lottery-

losing again

~ Mykel Board ~


as their boat floats

out of the tunnel of love

they move apart

~ Cor van den Heuvel ~

Kerouac Reads Hiaku

~ Chiyo ~

Since morning glories

hold my well-bucket hostage,

I beg for water

Cat Haiku:

I want to be close

to you. Can I fit my head

inside your armpit?

~ anonymous ~

Please donate. We need lots of ice.

Please donate. We need lots of ice.
Please donate. We need lots of ice.

or leave a haiku

from your own creative heart,

bouquets of flowers

Feedback Welcome!

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    • KevinGeetar profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens, really reminded me of how much I liked Haiku in school. I also spent a couple of years working in Haiku Valley on Oahu in a previous lifetime, thanks for a good read....Kev

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      man in poetry,

      poetic vision in fur:

      independent souls

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      Exquisite! Enough said. :-)

    • Northbright profile image

      Norbert Isles 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      Awesome Haiku Lens.

    • puerdycat lm profile image

      puerdycat lm 

      7 years ago

      --what a treat--

      Kerouac picture

      reading hiaku with a cat,

      tamed, the wild man.

    • stirko profile image


      7 years ago

      I really like this kind of poetry

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Another very lovely poetry lens, very inspiring and creative. I like it!

    • girlfriendfactory profile image


      8 years ago

      Very well done! I was investigating the haiku lenses, with the intent of writing one, but yours is as detailed as mine would have been, with the exception of a few missing poets credited as being responsible for making the form known and widespread outside of Japan. Your haiku lens definitely should be the highest ranked on the subject due to the exceptional content and visually-pleasing layout.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Very nice lens. I have written some Haiku's over at Associated Content lately, it's an interesting form of verse for sure.

    • tea lady 2 profile image


      8 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Fun lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent lens - if you have the opportunity come by and for a lens visit of my haiku lenses




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