Hundreds of years ago, the Japanese
in olden times created an art form, in the shape of a small verse. The verse is
called haiku (HIGH-koo).
Haiku grew from an early writing game in which
the first three lines of a poem were written by one person. A second
person wrote the closing two lines. But the great Japanese writer, Basho
(1644-94) grew tired of this game. He felt that the first three
lines could stand alone. In that way, haiku was born.
There are no rhyming
words in haiku, and each 3-line verse has only 17 syllables or less!
The three lines are often arranged so that the first line has five
(5) syllables, the second line has seven (7) syllables, and the
third line has five (5) syllables. This is called the 5-7-5 rule.
Haiku does not always follow the 5-7-5 rule. But to be haiku, the
verse must express a thought, feeling or mood. The verse cannot be
composed of more than 17 syllables; it cannot have more than 3
lines; and it cannot rhyme.
As you read each verse below, put yourself in
the poet's place - try to share what he or she is feeling. Then
share the poem with someone else. You may find that others receive a
different image or feel a different mood than you do, all while
reading the same words. That is one reason a haiku verse is often
accompanied by an illustration.
Here is an example of haiku written by the
great Japanese writer Basho.
Ask yourself, what season is it?
That black crow I hate so much ....
But he's beautiful!
These haiku verses were written by kids.
you read these, ask yourself, "What season is it?"
We could hear
the trees ...
As we went through the forest
Play with the wind
—Roger, age 10
On a hill boldly watching
The time goes on .... on
—Therese, age 11
The above examples of haiku verse, written by Basho, Roger, and Therese, can be compared in many ways. For one
thing, they all follow the 5-7-5 rule. Another way to compare them
is by looking at their use of seasons. Using nature to express a
mood or image is at the heart of haiku. All three of these verses
use nature or the natural movement of things to express their
thoughts. Basho's verse takes place in the winter, which gives the
black crow against the white snow its beauty. Roger's verse is
probably set in the summer or perhaps in the fall, when leaves are
on the trees. Therese's verse is more timeless - it flows through
many seasons, while keeping itself aloof.
"Having few words and pausing at the end
of each short line gives a special feeling to haiku. Even a simple
statement sounds thoughtful—as though it has a deeper
took some dialogue from Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone,
and presented it as if it were haiku. By taking a sentence out of
context, and putting it into haiku form, they were able to easily
change a simple comment into a thoughtful statement.
How many times
We be able to witness
A dragon hatching?
Mr. Donn's haiku instructions to his students:
To write haiku
First, get a picture in your mind of a
thing or a person that made you angry or sad or happy or glad -
"Or maybe you think ... A blanket wrapped around you ... By
someone you Love" - can be made into haiku.
Write down your image using 10 to 15 words.
Then put it into the 5-7-5 form.
Try to make others see your picture or
An illustration of what you are trying to
express might help.
- Poetry of the Samurai Warrior
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