The beauty of the Japanese Haiku is
It is said that at the heart of poetry lies replication, either of nature or of men. There are many poetic ways of expressing one’s self and the ‘Haiku’ is yet another form which originated in 17th century Japan. The poet Basho is considered as the father of haiku. Haiku has gained tremendous popularity in the 20th century; thanks to its form, which in its brevity is able to identify with the pain and the craving for some semblance of peace in this mad new world.
Initially, a haiku was thought to consist of three lines, with a pattern that went like this: 5 syllables in the first line, the middle having 7 syllables and the last with 5 syllables. Over the years, there have been many variations and opinions, but for the purpose of understanding the basic form of a haiku, let’s stick to the original thought process.
1. In a traditional haiku, there are three lines of 5-7-5 syllables, a total of 17 syllables in all. There is no rhyming.
2. Only very ordinary words are used. Nature is the main subject.
3. The kigo, or season word, is an important part because the poem has very few words - thus simple phrases such as ‘cherry blossoms’ or ‘raindrops’ can create lush scenes, reflecting the feelings of the poetry. We must remember that Japanese is a very pictorial language!
4. Adding a contrast or
comparison. In a haiku, you present one idea in the first two lines and then switch quickly to something else or do the same with the first line and last two. The haiku accomplishes this shift with a kireji, or cutting word, which cuts the poem into two parts. Creating this two-part structure successfully is the toughest part of haiku writing. Try not to establish a very evident connection between the two parts, but at the same time, you also need to avoid an excessively pronounced remoteness.
5. Haiku poems are rather like a
conundrum and the reader is left guessing as to what has been written by the poet, so you need to incorporate mystery.
6. Use objective sensory descriptions primarily. Haiku is based on the five senses and is about things you can experience and not about your understanding or analysis. Therefore, it is good to rely on sensory descriptions and use mostly objective words.
7. Write what you see, not what you feel. Haiku is about emotions expressed through concrete
images, quite a paradox!
8. The haiku helps to capture a single moment in time. Though it is simple to learn, mastery takes many years.
• To begin, practice writing a few seventeen-syllable observations.
• Select familiar words that express your thoughts.
• Remember to keep a season in mind.
Examine a haiku:
“Green and speckled legs - 5
Hop on legs and lily pads - 7 syllables
Splash in cool water” - 5 syllables
Another Basho haiku:
“Sick on a journey -
Over parched fields
Dreams wander on.”
A haiku has also been called an ‘unfinished poem’ and keeps a person guessing about what may
happen or come after this.
Now, try writing a haiku on
something as simple as the seasons:
Dark skies are raining
Dancing white cottony buds
Wake up lazy bones - (composed by me)
Write another one on may be, a seasonal fruit. Take a look at this modern piece:
“A spring nap
downstream cherry trees
What is being communicated is the thought that buds on a tree can be compared to the sleeping of flowers. As a learner, you could also replace the image of the cherry buds with something else that will
develop your skill as a writer.