Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Poetic Forms : HAIKU (Week 4, A Repost)

Welcome to the 4th installment of our FEATURE "POETIC FORMS", to get inspired and know the world of different forms of poetry and I am Shashi your host. Every month on the 3rd Wednesday, I will try to give you info about some forms of poetry which has attracted me and inspired me..
This post will also have some interesting example's to inspire you to write some poetry in the form.... so here we go friends with one of the most interesting forms that has kept me captivated for decades

HAIKU .... 

One of the most interesting form of Poetry from Japan, which is all about creating an image within the reader's mind with very few words...

Wish this post inspires you to paint some beautiful images within 17 syllables and in 3 lines.

Go on... read and then post some of your own trial runs, rough drafts or your polished gems of HAIKU. I look forward to reading them and come back to you with my suggestions and my thoughts...

How to Submit My Poetry?

Add your entry via InLinkz below by clicking on the blue button, and leave a comment in case it is your first time! It would be great if you could link back to us on your blog.

Now without any further delay... here is this month's POETIC FORM "HAIKU" for you to sink your creative teeth in and let your words flow....

Classic Haiku

Haiku are short, brilliantly vivid poems containing visually complete descriptions of moments in a poet’s experience. In the space of their original 17 Japanese syllables, haiku express worlds of profound emotion and philosophical insight. Simple on the surface, yet fascinatingly complex on close study, Haiku have universal appeal and the number of languages into which they have been translated testify to this.

Much, though not all, early Japanese poetry was written by nobility, and despite the strict conventions of behaviors imposed on courtiers of the 8thto the 11th centuries, much of their poetry still radiates inspiration and sparkle today.

Nature images, such as cherry blossom, in early Japanese poetry became one of the most characteristic features of the canon. In other poems such as this by the 8th centaury poet Takechi no Kurohito, a note of melancholy suffuses the poet’s vivid perception, and the snapshot of natural beauty is modulated by the suggestion of human activity, a technique often used by Haiku poets many centuries later.

Travelling and lonely, I see beneath a hill
A boat painted with red clay rowing to the other side.
- Kurohito

Murasaki Shikibu, illustration
 Tosa Mitsuoki (17th century)
Writers of the medieval period in Japan, from roughly the 8th to the 13th centuries, produced an enormous literature of love poetry. Most of the poems in Lady Murasaki’s prose classic “The tale of Genji” were short verses of longing, sadness or reminiscence exchanged between friends of lovers. The following verse traded between Prince Genji and the Japanese Empress at the death-bed of Genji’s wife are characteristic. His poem comes first; hers answers:

In the haste we make to leave this world of dew
May there be no time between the first and last.
- Genji

A world of dew before the autumn winds,
Not only theirs, these fragile leaves of grass

Chūnagon Yakamochi by Kanō Tan'yū
The inherent sadness in life’s transient incompleteness is a theme that would preoccupy the great Haiku Poets.

A knowledge of classical poetic tradition represented in the 8th century anthology Man’yoshu and the 10thcentury Kokinshu was indispensable to later poets writing haiku.

The term Waka – a word meaning “Japanese poem” came into use in the 9th century, to minimize the confusion with Chinese Poetry being read and written by educated Japanese people at a time during the T’ang Dynasty when Chinese arts threatened to become overly influential in Japan. It was during this period that Japanese imperial diplomatic and economic ties with Chinawere broken, and consequently Japanese writers were encouraged to pursue more local traditions and genres. Japanese people had been composing Waka for ceremonial occasions long before the advent of a literary culture, and even when writing becomes an established means of discourse, the recitation of Waka remained a public art and means of private communication.

The short form of Waka, later become known as Tanka, which grew to be the most popular poetic vehicle and Haiku developed from it.

The Kokinshu – whose ‘thousands of leaves’ represents the oldest poetic tradition in Japan. It was compiled around 920CE, where the poems are organized according to theme, divided into sections devoted to love and the four seasons. This ordering of topics became prescriptive and for many centuries determined the subjects that were deemed acceptable for study by the professional poets who made a living giving instruction in Haiku writing: the Haiku Masters.

Haiku Rules:
While some Haiku poets claimed a degree of personal freedom, most obeyed decreed compositional rules. First the Haiku consisted of 17 syllables, made of three phrases of five, seven and five syllables. Within this format, the Haiku was generally divided also into two parts standing in contrast or reversal to each other.

A poem might start with a traditional image such as cherry blossom, full moon or dew and then re-focus to a lower perhaps clashing image. A seasonal word (Kigo) was another prescriptive component of Haiku. Other rules underlined the subtler aspects of Haiku. If classical correctness could be ‘lowered’ to let in descriptions of ordinary life, it was, said Basho, important to ‘correct’ the ordinary, imbuing it with poetic exaltation (Fuga). In turn Fuga has to be used to express important ideas: the spiritual wealth within modest and simple things (Wabi); beauty, mystery and elegance (Yugen) as in the example below
Stillness and solitude –
Sinking into stones,
The trill of cicadas
- Basho

And melancholy sadness and tranquility (Sabi and Shori)

On a withered branch
A crow has settled.
Nightfall in autumn.
- Basho

Or in the spirit of poetic madness (Fukyo)

Let me show you,
You market people,
This hat filled with snow.
- Basho
And sometimes in shockingly comic ‘lightness’ (Karumi)

A bush warbler
Leaves its droppings on the rice cake
At the edge of the verandah.

Emphasizing the shift in tone, a cutting word (Kireji) usually sits at the end of one of the phrases. The cutting word was often a semantically meaningless sentence-ending particle such as kana, ka, ya, heri or ran. Such word sounds did not themselves contribute meaning but acted both to divide the poem into two rhythmic halves and to set up a contrast between the two poem’s parts. A seasonal word Kigo was another prescriptive component of Haiku. Early classical literature contained a huge vocabulary of words that implied not only a season but an emotion appropriate to it. Spring, with its mood of optimism, was implied by cherry blossom and certain birds. The bright but often fatiguing summer was often suggested by flower and tree words. Autumn melancholy was expressed by ‘lonely’ images, such as a full moon, wind and dying leaves. Cold words like snow alluded to the hard experience of winter. Poets writing in the spirit of haikai added less refined seasonal words: Dandelion, garlic, horseradish and mating cats all connoted spring for example.

Some of the times, Haiku also shows of an acceptance of the life’s impermanence. The most famous Haiku Master Basho’s haiku some times also demonstrates the genuine Buddhist enlightenment. The following very famous Haiku by the most famous Haiku Master Basho expresses most vividly the truth – the enactment of both, the phenomenon, what is and its passing. In this Haiku, a creature living unconsciously, according to its nature, is shown in the context of the man made artifice of an old garden pond, highlighting the simple bare and eternally ordinary ‘is-ness’ of all existence in the present moment:

Old pond
A frog jumps in,
The sound of water

The Milestones…
After Basho, there have been many great poets who took Haiku to the greater heights …

The bite of my axe.
Sudden revelation –
There is life in this tree!

As Buson accepts his death quietly in this farewell poem

White plum blossoms,
Night turns to dawn –
The time has come

Kobayashi Issa
Alone among the shady bushes
A girl is singing
A rice planter's song

Masaoka Shiki
A river in summer
There’s a bridge here, but
My horse prefers water
With useless authority
The great horned owl
Sits moon-eyed in daylight

I envy the tomcat:
How easily he lets go of
Love’s pain and longing

The child cries at her breast.
And the mosquito also bites
The sleeping mother

With ink-stained lips,
The boy leaves his poem
For the cool outdoors

For further reading and my personal journey in knowing and embracing Haiku, please check out my blog feature @ Haiku – The essence of a poetic moment

Now Join in with Linkz below to share, to read some great talents and get inspired...
 नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Text and Image Sources: Tom Lowenstein’s Classic Haiku and Wikipedia

Greetings from The Purple Treehouse, 

We redo Shashi's Haiku Form so that you can submit  


to our site, in celebrating Christmas and New Year of 2011-2012, Have Fun! 


  1. perfect samples, those are stunning and beautiful.

  2. Great article about haiku. I write a lot of haiku. They are often not purely traditional in style, but I strive to maintain the natural element and feel.

  3. New adventures - thank you!

    Anna :i]

  4. Great post. I don't write that Haiku that often but I like to use a variety of styles.

  5. Thanks for the invite. Haikus have been on my mind. : )

  6. Thanks for the invite. Will give it a try. :)

  7. Thanks for the invite. Now that one shot is gone, thanks for putting another forum up.

  8. way to go.

    welcome and reading you right now.

  9. Good to see such a great response.... and find some very lovely Haiku...

    Here is some of my haiku for your reading pleasure... which is based on the spiritual places that I have had visited in India during my various travels.

    Hope you all like it...


    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya

  10. Beautiful source of inspirational examples for haiku writing

  11. thank you for the invitation to contribute

    a lovely site

    such generous poets


  12. how wonderful!
    thanks for including me!
    i will put one together

  13. thank you for the invitation ~ i had actually connected with the site a few hours earlier through Jingle Poetry.
    lovely haiku, Shashi! this was the most detailed description of haiku that i have read.
    i'm having problems with my laptop so submitted a haiku originally posted 12 February 2010 and reposted today. i hope that is okay.
    thank you. i will try to be here every month. dani

  14. Enjoyed this post. Good idea to have a special haiku day.

  15. Been meaning to post some Haiku for a while now, Jingle & A Year in Haiku (andy) always makes me want to ...LOL. Finally, I'm persuaded. Love it! Thank you.

  16. Dear Shashiji,

    What do I say except that I am so happy to learn more about favourite form since August 2010 when I go tinspired to try...after that I have written and posted more than 250 haikus..on my blog..well I have put two from my existing posts here.. but then from next time it will be a new haiku week by week.. I am following here..

  17. Thank you friends for being here... this weekend I am going to try and read all your haiku. I am sure that I am going to have a great weekend with lots of Cuppa and paintings with words...

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya

  18. Thanks for the article, interesting for beginners like me. Have submitted one entry.

  19. Thanks for the invite. Haiku is one of my favourite forms. I look forward to participating :)

  20. Thanks for the invite and prompt, a needed kick to get me writing again :)

  21. Very nice post, Shashi! I learned a lot. I love your obvious love for poetry and in particular, the haiku. I will post a haiku of my own soon.

    Cheers, Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

  22. Great article. A year's worth of haiku here:!/duncancleary
    Looking forward to exploring the work of others.

  23. Thank you so much for the lovely share.

    I am new to haiku forms, and will try to work at it. If I can't join you this week, please invite me for the coming sessions.

    I have tried my hand in senryu poem as the subject is not about nature.

    Its here:

  24. Looks as though I missed the opportunity to share, but love the post... very informative. Thank you for giving us a wonderful opportunity.

  25. This was very inspiring. And here's my first try at Haiku.
    Hope you liked it. :)

  26. LOL! I'm trying this again guys, so be kind since it's only my second attempt at haiku!! I've mastered hay(na)ku but that one is easier. Nice job laying out some beautiful examples for us :) Blessings and Merry Christmas to all!! Terri

  27. A great post.
    This is a great form of poetry.

  28. Submitted some fresh ones,

    got to drive to give my son a surgery on his wisdom teeth now.

    will be back and do visits.

    keep your Haikus coming.

  29. Thank u so much for the invite.. but cud u let me know what the prompt or the theme is. Also, jut a suggestion this post was toooooooo long. I wish it would have been a concise post.
    I just want to ask sumthing, do all the haiku which have been shared in this post go by the classic 5-7-5 format?
    If possible pls rply back sumwer on my blog:)
    thank u:)
    Would lobe to write one

  30. I couldnt pass up on the haiku. I have a lot on my blog, simply search for Haiku. Lately I am trying more and more to implement the kireji into them.

  31. Magical fun, playing with form and feeling.

  32. Thanks for making it a haiku promt this time. I totally love haikus- 'the essence of a poetic moment' as you so well describe it!

  33. I think I read somewhere that the plural of "haiku" is "haiku," just as the plural of "deer" is "deer," and the plural of "sheep" is "sheep."

    Is that true? Because if it is, I'm going to start cringing whenever I see "haikus."

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

  34. Thanks for the correction,


    HAIKU=Many HAKU..


  35. i posted spirt senryu

  36. Wonderful post! Here's my Haiku trio. Okay, really senryu. :)

  37. Namaste, Shashi! I would like to thank you for your kind invitation. For some odd reason, my first try did not go to the proper link. This is why I have entered it twice. I hope you enjoy my haiku. Have a nice time! ♥Kay

  38. So wonderful and beautiful. Thank you for the introduction to haiku Shishi. I will definitely give it a try

  39. welcome,

    hope to read you soon, lonesomebounty.

  40. it is always fun to write Haiku,


  41. hello,

    two lovers who sit next to me in public library have inspired my Haiku,

    they are still giggling and talking...

    what a fun experience.

    life is full of inspirations.

    Glad to share.

  42. Number 64, by Gigi Ann didn't connect, that is me, Sorry. Will try again.

  43. those are beautiful haikus that you have shared.

  44. Thanks for the inspiration this week. Hope you had a beautiful holiday!

  45. Thanks for the clear explanation of what a Haiku is and the different formats. I'm looking forward to trying to write more.