The Joy of Writing Haikus


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It all depends on how it fits in the song. However, in general, haiku should be three lines of on.

Writing Haiku: The Perfect Lesson For Your Class

Let's take a look at a real haiku poem by Kikusha, translated by former European haiku expert, Reginald Horace Blyth R. Blyth , broken up into this on versus syllable style. Remember, the syllables are counting the Japanese poem by English syllable standards, not the English translation. Anyway, by Japanese standards this is a perfectly straightforward, well-structured haiku, but from the English syllable perspective it's not. So saying haiku is a syllable structure just isn't true. And because on are easy to see and count, Japanese haiku are generally written on a single line, rather than broken up into three, which means it's up to the reader to decide where those line "divisions" actually are.

It's usually pretty clear, but this also opens up more formatting possibilities. The pattern underpins a lot of Japanese poetry.

It's like iambic pentameter in English; the language naturally falls into this pattern, so verse was based on it for centuries before haiku existed. However, as I said earlier, this rule is often broken in English and Japanese. However, I still count this as a rule, not simply a quality of haiku, because it is obeyed most of the time. And when it's broken, it's usually for artistic effect, rather than incompetence.

The Joy of Writing Haikus by Reynaldo Casison

Haiku are often considered nature poems. Look at any classical haiku and you'll usually see some kind of natural imagery like wildlife or weather. This is more formal than something like a sonnet, that should be about love but isn't always—haiku have specific words you have to use. Some kigo may seem more obvious than others, but they are all rooted deeply in Japansese culture. It isn't as simple as thinking about spring and writing it all down.

Another important mechanic of kigo is that they can be modified.


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The dragonflies Cease their mad flight As the crescent moon rises. Buson does this:. The old man of the temple, Splitting wood In the winter moonlight. So there are many, many kigo and they can be altered in many, many ways as long as they follow the rules of appearing where and when they're supposed to. But how do you know what image goes with what season? There are tons of kigo, so even professionals need some help. These anthologies are often divided into five seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter, and New Year.

Weaving back and forth Through the lines of wheat A butterfly.

Matsuo Bashō

Spring is the season of new beginnings. The New Year has passed and plants and animals awaken to fill the world with noise, color, and smells. The days are still hazy, especially in early spring, but we haven't yet hit the oppressive summer heat. Many spring haiku treat this time with lightness, joy, and comfort—in Sora's haiku, farming mirrors the movement of a butterfly as both begin life anew. Spring is the time for cherry blossoms, plum blossoms, and camellia flowers. Also, spring is when cats get it on. There are a lot of humorous haiku about noisy felines shamelessly enjoying the season outside a poet's window.

Summer opens with thumping rain at the beginning of June and it hits everything, even the water dwelling carp. Summer weather also means hot days and cool nights. Daytime laziness and nighttime activity are often front and center in summer haiku. Blyth says, "fields and mountains have in summer a vast, overarching meaning, something of infinity and eternity in them that no other season bestows. Insects make appearances in summer haiku as well, and not just fireflies and cicadas either.

Mosquitoes, fleas, and lice are all featured. It's common for haiku to treat insects with Buddha-like compassion rather than the annoyance that many of us feel. The moon in the water; Broken and broken again, Still it is there. Autumn is the perfect time of year for Japanese art — it's excellent at capturing the melancholic beauty of things fading away. For me, autumn is the perfect time of year for Japanese art—it's excellent at capturing the melancholic beauty of things fading away.


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  4. Death isn't often featured in haiku, but autumn evenings are used to reflect on the mortality or flaws of man. It's not all sitting alone feeling glum though. The Milky Way is most visible in autumn. Both Chinese and Japanese poetry discuss the sounds of insects in autumn evenings. Haiku adds scarecrows and many flowers, most notably chrysanthemums, to the kigo list. The winter river: Not enough water For four or five ducks. Winter is, of course, a cold season. Even where it doesn't snow, everything becomes more monochromatic and flat.

    Snow is like winter's cherry blossoms, ever-present and flexible. It covers everything; though pine trees are less affected by the cold than others.

    Expect to see tangled twigs and empty fields, with few signs of life beyond fish, owls, eagles, and water birds. In the lunar calendar, winter is the end of the year, and this sense of finality will sometimes make its way into haiku written for the season. Before the Meiji Restoration , the Japanese calendar followed the Chinese lunar year rather than the Western Gregorian calendar. This meant the New Year fell right at the overlap between winter and spring, generally in early February.

    Plums are beginning to bloom and the sky is turning blue. In particular, New Year's Morning is considered the beginning of the year—the first experiences of familiar things like the wind, running water, and clouds have a special significance on this day. A view of Mt. Fuji is like this; something seen every day but made more special thanks to the circumstances.

    Like , the kigo rule can be broken. In his time it was a vast wilderness. The size and desolation of the plain was likely the reason for this haiku's lack of kigo. Regardless of when you walk through it, it will be the same huge, empty place. Many others followed his lead, and because of this haiku has become associated with travel writing. Traveling poets weren't just wandering though.


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    7. They had specific places they wanted to visit, and would write haiku about their experience of that place. It's partially a case of recording their own feelings, but it's also a link between different poets. Writing a poem, following the same themes as those that came before, added that poet to a long tradition.

      And just like seasons have kigo, places have seasons you should visit them in and certain aspects you should write about when you're there. In a sense, then, places and place names can act like a kind of kigo in that they link poems together across time and space. It's also one of the hardest to translate because there's no direct equivalent in English, or most other languages. Kireji act like punctuation in haiku. Classical Japanese , like Chinese, uses almost no punctuation beyond a full stop, so haiku use words to do this job instead. More specifically, they use particles.

      Some of these are used in standard spoken Japanese, but in haiku their meanings are often quite different. Meaning is more difficult with kireji, especially because many of them are simply used to add emphasis. Most will be translated in English as:. So if kireji are like punctuation, what exactly are they punctuating? Well, one of the foundations of haiku is juxtaposition.

      This is the act of taking different things often visual images in haiku and placing them close together. This divides and unites at the same time. Let's look at my personal favorite haiku, by Issa:.

      The Joy of Writing Haikus The Joy of Writing Haikus
      The Joy of Writing Haikus The Joy of Writing Haikus
      The Joy of Writing Haikus The Joy of Writing Haikus
      The Joy of Writing Haikus The Joy of Writing Haikus
      The Joy of Writing Haikus The Joy of Writing Haikus
      The Joy of Writing Haikus The Joy of Writing Haikus

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