Patricia Horn O'Brien

The Haiku



I recently came across a book in a long-ignored dusty book case:  Haiku in English by Harold G, Henderson, and I was reminded how intrigued I’ve always been by the haiku.

While reading through the book, Old Saybrook beach and town offered great settings for turning to the haiku to capture the moment.  And then, on a recent road trip on which I was the passenger mile-after-mile,  I found myself  writing haiku on my cell phone as the world rolled by. 


There is a great deal of information online and a plethora of books regarding the haiku.  Below is just a sampling of information I found online.  It might act to spur you on to further reading and to try writing haiku yourself.


Thanks for checking out my small collection of haiku that I’m sharing here [in post below.] And, if you give it a try, please share your haiku on the Poet Laureate page.  We’d love to read it!


According to Wikipedia:


Haiku  (俳句) (plural haiku) is a very short Japanese poem with seventeen syllables and three verses.  It  is typically characterized by three qualities:

  1. The essence of haiku is "cutting" (kiru).  is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji ("cutting word") between them,  a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colours the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.

  2. Traditional haiku consist of 17 on (also known as morae though often loosely translated as "syllables"), in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 on, respectively. An alternative form of haiku consists of 11 on in three phrases of 3, 5, and 3 on, respectively.) However, some authors are critical with the distribution of syllables, such as Vicente Haya or Jaime Lorente .  

  3. A kigo (seasonal reference), usually drawn from a saijiki, an extensive but defined list of such terms.

Modern Japanese haiku (現代俳句 gendai-haiku) are increasingly unlikely to follow the tradition of 17 on or to take nature as their subject, but the use of juxtaposition continues to be honored in both traditional and modern haiku.[6]There is a common, although relatively recent, perception that the images juxtaposed must be directly observed everyday objects or occurrences.     

In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line while haiku in English often appear in three lines to parallel the three phrases of Japanese haiku.

Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.         

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