Original Poetry Forums

Haiku Poetry

06-06-2009 at 02:37:13 PM

Haiku Poetry

I never understood nor appreciated Haiku poetry until recently. Here is my first attempt.

Haiku Poem - Hope
by Bob Shannon

Dark. loud, angry thunder
Bright rays shining through soft tears
Flowers smile again.

Last edited by aggieprof 06-06-2009 at 02:50:25 PM

06-06-2009 at 02:58:39 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

My understanding of the guidelines for Haiku poetry are:

Style - Haiku
---- 3 lines of 5 syllables / 7 syllables / 5 syllables
---- Be objective, not subjective
---- Pictures from nature or the natural world are good
---- line 1: picture / line 2: action / line 3: result of action + picture
---- Try not to use is, are, was, were ('to be' words)

06-06-2009 at 03:06:25 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

I think it's a great poem, but I believe your first line is six syllables. My problem with haiku poetry is that they're very hard to revise.

06-06-2009 at 05:45:59 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

One of the problems I have had is deciding how many syllables in certain words. Take the word angry. Is it 1 or 2? I showed it to several and the vast majority thought 1. But there was minority who thought 2. It turns out from what I have read that many words vary in the number depending upon the part of the country you are from and the local dialect you speak.

Last edited by aggieprof 06-06-2009 at 05:48:38 PM

06-06-2009 at 05:55:31 PM

Re: Re: Haiku Poetry

Originally Posted by aggieprof

One of the problems I have had is deciding how many syllables in certain words. Take the word angry. Is it 1 or 2? I showed it to several and the vast majority thought 1. But there was minority who thought 2. It turns out from what I have read that many words vary in the number depending upon the part of the country you are from and the local dialect you speak.

Yeah, I get what you mean. For me it would be two.

06-06-2009 at 06:43:35 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

How about the word angery? I'll bet you see 3. I see 2.

06-07-2009 at 10:29:34 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

May be fun to also research Senryu. Senryu delves more into humanistic involvement. Strict discipline haiku expresses a thought inspired by nature, may hold moral significance, but little reference to mortal involvement. Due to inflection and dialect, syllable count may be a detriment ... if in doubt, consult an online dictionary. It will give the most universally accepted syllable count.


Last edited by 4rum 06-07-2009 at 10:30:49 PM

06-08-2009 at 12:21:39 AM

Re: Haiku Poetry

japanese is fundamentally different that english

most writers who dabble in the discipline throw out the syllabic constraints because of the differences in linguistics.

nature is good turf for haiku.

but there is much much more.

haiku presents a poetic leap when successful

at the hour
upon the temple bell
a butterfly sleeps

paraphrased and recalled from memory. think it was basho, but not sure.

anyway, so what happens at the hour when the bell chimes? and temple bells are quite large. think of that butterfly.

another one recalled, i think by bucson

up from the bottom
of the lake
the little brown duck smiled

well, not sure ducks smile. so who's smile and why?

so another instance of the poetic leap

06-08-2009 at 02:35:45 PM

Re: Re: Haiku Poetry

Originally Posted by 1dean

japanese is fundamentally different that english

at the hour
upon the temple bell
a butterfly sleeps

So what happens at the hour when the bell chimes? and temple bells are quite large. think of that butterfly.

Then you have to decide if the little flutter by owns the roost for six days straight or, being a monkery or a mosque- he only has a few hours.


06-08-2009 at 04:18:32 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

From what I have been reading lately, some American Haiku is 3-5-3 lines but traditionalists stick to the 5-7-5. Probably all irrelevant anyway but terrible fights between poets have been going on through the years.

06-08-2009 at 08:49:03 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

For me, the joy in haiku is the challenge of the discipline. If I deviate from the discipline, then why lable the work at all. Call it free verse and have at it. If we abandon meter, syllable count, form, structure and discipline but still enjoy writing, then it is the creativity of the poetry that we enjoy or need or need to share. Nothing wrong with that. I often write just for me. If I choose to share that work, and if another enjoys it then I am comforted in that we are diverse and that the individual should be encouraged to seek pleasure or satisfaction in a form that suits or compliments his taste.

I will often dismiss irregularities to appreciate content. I hope there will be some as forgiving of me.

Great thread.


06-12-2009 at 01:19:44 AM

Re: Haiku Poetry

My two favorite haiku's...

Tree frog clinging
to banana leaf
and swinging, swinging

and most famously....

0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0
The twelve red strawberries
-Richard Brautigan


06-21-2009 at 12:23:54 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

I like all this talk of Basho and Haiku's. They're fun, but they teach us that poetry is not about complicating the world with so many metaphors and so much symbolism, but poetry is breaking the universe down in it's simplest form

06-21-2009 at 11:57:20 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

Here is my attempt at nature/zen haiku....no promises!

Rust leaves dance on branch

the limb is bare underneath

Fall sweeps in the cold.

06-26-2009 at 01:21:07 AM

Re: Haiku Poetry


the treasure in haiku is where it takes the reader. Through juxtaposition and connectivity, haiku presents a fundamental poetic leap. it is the poetic leap that points to the zen experience of basho, buson and issa -- NOT SYLLABIC COUNT

PLEASE. three lines of hogwash in 5 / 7/ 5 syllables is still hogwash. the nature of English does not conform to the nature of Japanese syllables. if you do not believe me, ask someone who speaks Japanese.

look at Basho, Buson and Issa -- edited by Haas. None of the translations are according to syllabic count


06-26-2009 at 09:58:09 AM

Re: Haiku Poetry

All 3 of those mentioned were strict traditionalists. All of Bashos work is 5-7-5. The problem of course is that Japanese syllables and English syllables do not coincide. If you look up Basho for instance you can find a dozen or more translations of everyone of his poems. Even the meaning, thoughts and mind pictures, let alone the number of syllables differ all over the map for every poem. Unless you read Japanese , you have not read Basho. You have read what some translator thought he said.

06-26-2009 at 11:08:46 AM

Re: Haiku Poetry

Following are several translations
of the 'Old Pond' poem, which may be
the most famous of all haiku: Remember, the original is written in traditional form (see second post of this thread),

Furuike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

-- Basho

Literal Translation

Fu-ru (old) i-ke (pond) ya,
ka-wa-zu (frog) to-bi-ko-mu (jumping into)
mi-zu (water) no o-to (sound)

Translated by Fumiko Saisho

The old pond--
a frog jumps in,
sound of water.

Translated by Robert Hass

Old pond...
a frog jumps in
water's sound.

Translated by William J. Higginson

An old silent pond...
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

Translated by Harry Behn

There is the old pond!
Lo, into it jumps a frog:
hark, water's music!

Translated by John Bryan

The silent old pond
a mirror of ancient calm,
a frog-leaps-in splash.

Translated by Dion O'Donnol

old pond
frog leaping

Translated by Cid Corman

Antic pond--
frantic frog jumps in--
gigantic sound.

Translated by George M. Young, Jr.

Old pond
leap -- splash
a frog.

Translated by Lucien Stryck

The old pond,
A frog jumps in:.

Translated by Allan Watts

The old pond, yes, and
A frog is jumping into
The water, and splash.

Last edited by aggieprof 06-26-2009 at 11:59:54 AM

06-26-2009 at 11:43:39 AM

Re: Haiku Poetry

This is my idea of a forum. You did your research, Prof. I love Haiku and have posted a few of my own that are mostly unread and very critiqued as to syllabic content. Thus, later I posted info on Western Haiku and the rules but added have fun.

Haiku dances hard
pounding syllables upon
polished wooden sounds.

06-26-2009 at 11:56:29 AM

Re: Haiku Poetry

One last thought. Quoting my mentor and teacher Tom King, "The beauty of haiku is it forces you to say a lot with very few words. For those of us who are talkative, who make a habit of spilling out everything so that every point is covered and nothing is missed, that's the hardest lesson to learn on the road to becoming a good poet. Poetry shouldn't tell it all. It shows you something and lets you figure out the rest for yourself. Poetry's power is in its ability to tell more than it says." For example, what was Basho thinking? Most interpreters think he was commenting on Japanese society. That the young people were making a lot of noise and disturbing staid, traditional Japanese society i.e. the pond was society being disturbed by brash youth. Now go back and look at the translations.

Last edited by aggieprof 06-26-2009 at 12:02:08 PM

06-26-2009 at 05:23:51 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

Oops!! Forgot this translation:


'Dere wasa dis frogg
Gone jumpa offa da logg
Now he inna bogg.'

-- Anonymous

06-29-2009 at 06:16:11 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

Haiku was used in medieval Japan as a form of communication between lovers, such as when one or both of the pair was married, at a time when the penalty of discovery was death. Therefore, the three(5-7-5) or five line (5-7-5-7-7) communication was written as a refection of nature, for obvious reasons. The message could describe their last encounter, their feelings, and end with a clue as to the next rendezvous. All the Japanese short forms engender concise meaning and precise wording. They can be considered the epitomy of less is more.

Two examples of this type that I have written;

Cherry blossoms pool
Twilight sparkles on still pond.
Two for an eclipse.

Beige pebbled rushes
aftermath of the high tide
pink conch shells linger

Hurry to dwell on stone walk
The dusk noon flower to treat

07-03-2009 at 08:07:36 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

can a haiku side track the real theme of nature and how far can we go in defing nature- how about the nature of human and human behavior?

I have no problem with the syllables and the connecting thoughts- but I often supercede the ideal concept of nature.

Last edited by Hanna 07-03-2009 at 08:07:57 PM

07-04-2009 at 01:53:31 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

Hanna, you have hit the nail on the head. The beauty of the Japanese short form poems, to me, is that you are forced to see and appreciate the duality of nature and humanity when you write them. The trick is to be able to seperate their qualities when writing. For example, if we write; the breeze sang a song of summer. We are atributing a human quality to nature. When we write; her love is a flower of promise, we are attributing a quality of nature to humanity. The short forms (haiku, senyru and tanka) generally dictate that combining human-nature attributes is not allowed. It is amazing how often we combine them in everyday life. So much so that it can be very difficult to write of either without the other, to an such an extent that, it can take a concience and strenuous effort to avoid doing just that when we write. Surprisingly, once the technique is mastered, we see by reading the properly written forms are full of the duality of humanity and nature to the point that they are unseperable. Nature and humanity are one. It is in the writing that this becomes obvious, and it allows one to see this same duality in music, love, humanity, passion, and nature, a conglomerate. Thus when you read a senyru (people), you see nature. When you read a haiku(nature) you see humaity. This haiku writing format is said to have begun in the seventh century in Japan. Of course anyone can write any type of poetic form with complete freedom and call it what they want. My discussion here is about the centuries old Japanese tradition in wrting these forms.

07-04-2009 at 02:01:59 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry


I don't mean to offend anyone, but I think that this conglomerate of nature, humanity, music love, and passion includes, to me, God. Have you ever noticed that just about any love song or poem can be interpreted as a song or poem written to God?

07-04-2009 at 08:54:05 PM

Re: Haiku Poetry

I never wrote Haiku poetry and don't really know what it is but here's my offering:

A wedge of fruit
A blade of grass
A ray of sun

A drink in hand
A time to kill
A loaded gun

A soiled mind
A wounded heart
A scene is set

A country home
A world apart
A deep regret

A cheating man
A trigger pulled
A tear is shed

A pool site dug
A place of rest
To lay his head

A day has passed
A concrete bed
Conceals the worst

A silent dawn
A second plan
An unquenched thirst

A shadow eye
A stolen car
A race to kill

A vitum lives
The cost is dear
A bitter pill

A court convicts
A cripple screams
A sentence passed

A troubled day
A damaged pool
She might get gassed snake

Poetry comes nearer to vital truth than history.

Plato (BC 427-BC 347) Greek philosopher.