a short poem defined by Sir
George Sansom as "little drops of poetic essence." Originated in Japan,
it began as the hokku or first link
of a renga (see below). With the use of plain language, haiku is attentive to
season and location. It brings about a resonance that comes from the juxtaposition of
The format of haiku in Japanese is 5-7-5 syllables, traditionally written
in three vertical lines three lines. The haiku
contains a seasonal
word. The foreign language writer often strives for the essence of haiku
without strict adherence to the 17 syllable count. The reason for this the
difference in languages. For example "house" in English has one
syllable while "casa" in Spanish has two syllables.
Translations are dependent upon the person doing the translations and can vary
considerably. See the
difference below. More on translations at "Narrow
Road to the Deep North."
The old pond.
Breaking the silence
A frog jumps in –
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water –
(trans. by Blyth)
A deep resonance. (trans. by Yuasa)
When the poet also creates a
painting or sumi ink drawing it is called a haiga.
The images of Buson and Issa below are an example of haiga. For more information
follow the link- haiga.
has settled on a bare branch--
a frog jumps in
the sound of water
all that's left
of warrior's dreams
the heron's legs
calligraphy of geese
against the sky--
the moon seals it
escaped the nets,
escaped the ropes--
the moon on the water
her row veering off,
the peasant woman plants
toward her crying child
a bath when you're
a bath when you die,
My grumbling wife -
if only she were here!
This moon tonight...
I bite into a
and a bell resounds--
a moonflower fell-
the tree cut,
dawn breaks early
at my window
How much longer
is my life?
a brief night
my fishing line --
the summer moon.
Shaking the bamboo
has its own heat.
To the one breaking it --
of the plum.
The passing year --
are also flowing water.
Ah, for coolness,
it rivals the water's depth -
this autumn sky.
Its house abandoned,
the garden has become home
Translation of Steven D. Carter
The sky clears
and the moon and the snow
are one color.
translator Jonathan Clements
Basho, Buson, and Issa translated Robert Hass. Shiki translated Janine
Beichman. Chiyo-ni translated Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi. Images of
Bahso, Shiki and Busho from Mushimegane.
Image of Issa from Issa.
Image of Chiyo-ni from Amazon
at Haiku World. Image of Sogi from wakayama.
Haiku should contain a seasonal word- a "kigo."
The kigo indicates the season in which the poem is written. Without a kigo the
poem usually is considered a senryu. A kigo is a key that "places"
the poem not only in time but within the context of all that the season
implies. If you have a Christmas kigo, then not only do you know it is
winter, cold, but also the images of family gatherings, gifts, and feasts are
the porch swing
sags with cousins
Japanese interlinked verses
that originated in the 12th century. It can be written singularly or by
groups of poets. Each verse is interconnected and poems have been as long
as 10,000 verses.
The most common renku had 36 verses. The verses are usually connected by
alternate verses of (5-7-5) and (7-7). The first starting 3 lines are called the hokku
(from which haiku is originated). The modern haiku developed by Shiki originated
from the starting verse of the renka. The linked poems follow exact placements
for season words and other input such as "love" or "moon." Below are modern adaptations.
Haiku and other oriental poetry forms are well suited for hand made
books. Below are links with instructions for folded books and hand sewn books.
The size of the folded books is determined only by the paper size. Hand-made
paper is quite lovely with this project.