The Haiku Page

Introducing the Haiku

Skip to the verses The haiku is a Japanese verse form, highly regarded in that country. I do not know Japanese and therefore know nothing of the frm it takes when written in that language. Neither, it follows, can I comment on translations from that language. What I can say is that the Japenese prize it for its simplicity, its lightness and its depth. Here, for example, is a seventeenth century example by Basho - probably the best loved of all the Japanese masters. The grasshoppers' cry does not reveal how very soon they are to die. The following remarks apply to the haiku as verse written in English, rather than having been translated into it.In that form then, it has pretty much established itself as a verseof three lines having five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five again in the last. It also should have an epigrammatic quality. Beyond that, purists say variously that rhyme and rhythm are not factors to consider, that simile and metaphor should be avoided and that it should referto a season and have an appropriate seasonal word included in it somewhere. Not every haiku you encounter will exhibit all these qualities. Some poets writing in English have experimented with spreading the seventeen syllables over just two lines, but to my mind the pattern of breaks and restarts afforded by the 5 - 7 - 5 structure is essential to its character.Certainly the final 5 is needed to underline any pithy ending that it might have. I am not a purist as my stumbling examples below will make clear. I have produced them in the belief that the three essentials are: That a haiku should have three lines, that it should have seventeen syllables in a 5 - 7 - 5 sequence and that it should hint at more than the words convey.

The Verses

Disappearing birds. Silent woodlands. Silent homes. Disappearing words. As earth grows warmer pie and mushy peas give way to chicken kormer. Standards now are set for us but not for them by those whom we elect To know how little one must give for hope of life, is to live What memory films it edits. In the cutting deeper feeling dies. Words are Christmas toys left untouched in boxes or hammered flat by boys. Can political correctness improve a lot the lot of any?
Within hours of putting this page online I had the following sent me by e-mail: Many hands make light of work while too much work makes light of many hands. Jonathan Daniels And then the following day, this: Spin and disasters conceal from us our masters' inward emptiness. Sandra Mann
Since when: waves rush to the shore happy frogs sing in the creek peaceful coastal night Marg Petersen When the Montreal constabulary went on strike, all hell broke loose. T.K. Daniels