View Full Version : Haiku Collection

17 May 2008, 10:45 PM
What is Haiku?

Haiku is one of the most important form of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Created by Masaoka Shiki in the 1890s, this new form of poetry was to be written, read and understood as an independent poem, complete in itself, rather than part of a longer chain.

Modern Haiku

The history of the modern haiku dates from Masaoka Shiki's reform, begun in 1892, which established haiku as a new independent poetic form. Shiki's reform did not change two traditional elements of haiku: the division of 17 syllables into three groups of 5, 7, and 5 syllables and the inclusion of a seasonal theme. It is customary that a word or phrase in a haiku must indicate the season of the year--like cherry blossoms for spring, snow for winter, and mosquitoes for summer--but the season word isn't always that obvious.

Kawahigashi Hekigoto carried Shiki's reform further with two proposals:

1. Haiku would be truer to reality if there were no center of interest in it.
2. The importance of the poet's first impression, just as it was, of subjects taken from daily life, and of local colour to create freshness.

Let us have a collection of interesting haiku here. After becoming with the form and the content, we might perhaps be inspired to write our own.

Writing haiku is not easy as it seems. Check the Wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiku for a comprehensive article on haiku. Any haiku we write, let us post in a separate thread I have started for the purpose.

Akutagawa, Ryunosuke (1892-1927)

Green frog,
Is your body also
freshly painted?

Sick and feverish
Glimpse of cherry blossoms
Still shivering.

Basho, Matsuo (1644-1694)

Fallen sick on a journey,
In dreams I run wildly
Over a withered moor.

An old pond!
A frog jumps in-
The sound of water.

The first soft snow!
Enough to bend the leaves
Of the jonquil low.

In the cicada's cry
No sign can foretell
How soon it must die.

Clouds appear
and bring to men a chance to rest
from looking at the moon.

Harvest moon:
around the pond I wander
and the night is gone.

Won't you come and see
loneliness? Just one leaf
from the kiri tree.

Temple bells die out.
The fragrant blossoms remain.
A perfect evening!


No sky
no earth - but still
snowflakes fall

Issa (1762-1826)

In my old home
which I forsook, the cherries
are in bloom.

A giant firefly:
that way, this way, that way, this -
and it passes by.

Right at my feet -
and when did you get here,

My grumbling wife -
if only she were here!
This moon tonight...

A lovely thing to see:
through the paper window's hole,
the Galaxy.

A man, just one -
also a fly, just one -
in the huge drawing room.

Kato, Shuson

I kill an ant
and realize my three children
have been watching.


Night, and the moon!
My neighbor, playing on his flute -
out of tune!

Murakami, Kijo (1865-1938)

The moment two bubbles
are united, they both vanish.
A lotus blooms.

Natsume, Soseki (1867-1916)

On New Year's Day
I long to meet my parents
as they were before my birth.

The crow has flown away:
swaying in the evening sun,
a leafless tree.


You rice-field maidens!
The only things not muddy
Are the songs you sing.

Ryusui (1691-1758)

In all this cool
is the moon also sleeping?
There, in the pool?

Shiki, Masaoka (1867-1902).

I want to sleep
Swat the flies
Softly, please.

After killing
a spider, how lonely I feel
in the cold of night!

For love and for hate
I swat a fly and offer it
to an ant.

The summer river:
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water.

A lightning flash:
between the forest trees
I have seen water.

Takahama, Kyoshi

A dead chrysanthemum
and yet - isn't there still something
remaining in it?

He says a word,
and I say a word - autumn
is deepening.

The winds that blows -
ask them, which leaf on the tree
will be next to go.

A gold bug -
I hurl into the darkness
and feel the depth of night.

(From: http://www.toyomasu.com/haiku/)

17 May 2008, 11:18 PM
Christmas: Ron Loeffler

Glass balls and glowing lights.
Dead tree in living room.
Killed to honor birth.

Computers: Andeyev, Alexey V.

Spring backup in CS lab:
time to fall in love with
certain humanware.

Ed \"Darts Vapor\" Button

alone, on the web,
drops of sensitivity
embrace an eyelash

Chris Spruck

Faceless, just numbered.
Lone pixel in the bitmap-
I, anonymous.

Free: Thomas Grieg

Looking at the clouds
blue in the ice-wind
space flows


Darkended dreams
become modern grapes of wrath
reaping a bitter wine.

Summer: Paul Mena

through the fingerprints
on my window-
cloudless blue sky.

Phil Wahl

The flap of a bat,
drip drip of monsoon waters.
Ancient image stares.

Noel Kaufmann

Behold the ego
Set in glowing emptiness
On the edge of time

Urban Haiku
Michael R. Collings

Silence--a strangled
Telephone has forgotten
That it should ring

Freeway overpass--
Blossoms in grafitti on
fog-wrapped June mornings

World: Dave McCroskey

the morning paper
harbinger of good and ill
- - I step over it

(From: http://www.toyomasu.com/haiku/)

20 May 2008, 01:23 AM
Celebrated Haiku

Haiku (hy-koo) is a traditional Japanese verse form, notable for its compression and suggestiveness. In three lines totaling seventeen syllables measuring 5-7-5, a great haiku presents, through imagery drawn from intensely careful observation, a web of associated ideas (renso) requiring an active mind on the part of the listener.

The form emerged during the 16th century and was developed by the poet Basho (1644-1694) into a refined medium of Buddhist and Taoist symbolism. "Haiku," Basho was fond of saying, "is the heart of the Man'yoshu," the first imperial anthology, compiled in the eight century. "Haiku," many modern Japanese poets are fond of saying, "began and ended with Basho."

Look beyond the hyperbole of either observation, and there is a powerful element of truth. Traditionally and ideally, a haiku presents a pair of contrasting images, one suggestive of time and place, the other a vivid but fleeting observation. Working together, they evoke mood and emotion. The poet does not comment on the connection but leaves the synthesis of the two images for the reader to perceive.

A haiku by Basho, considered to have written the most perfect examples of the form, illustrates this dualitity:

Now the swinging bridge
Is quieted with creepers
Like our tendrilled life

When Basho writes:

How reluctantly
the bee emerges from deep
within the peony

is he merely presenting a pathetical fallacy, attributing human emotion to a bee, or is he entering into the authentic experience of "beeness" as deeply as possible? Perhaps both qualities are present.

In another poem, Basho finds

Delight, then sorrow,
aboard the cormorant
fishing boat

without having to describe for his audience the nooses tied around the throats of fishing birds to inhibit swallowing. He is initially delighted by their amazing skill and grace, then horrified that they cannot swallow what they catch, saddened by their captivity and exploitation, and perhaps even more deeply saddened by the fishing folk he never mentions. What remains unstated begs for a profound moral equation, although only the poet's compassion is clearly implied.

Issa reminds the attentive listener:

A world of dew,
and within every dewdrop
a world of struggle

Some haiku by Basho

How very noble!
One who finds no satori
in the lightning-flash

Breakfast enjoyed
in the fine company of
morning glories

This first fallen snow
is barely enough to bend
the jonquil leaves

A solitary
crow on a bare branch-
autumn evening

Whore and monk, we sleep
under one roof together,
moon in a field of clover

Seen in plain daylight
the firefly's nothing but
an insect

A cuckoo cries,
and through a thicket of bamboo
the late moon shines

The banana tree
blown by winds pours raindrops
into the bucket

With plum blossom scent,
this sudden sun emerges
along a mountain trail

This ruined temple
should have its sad tale told only
by a clam digger

Through frozen rice fields,
moving slowly on horseback,
my shadow creeps by

Chilling autumn rains
curtain Mount Fuji, then make it
more beautiful to see

With dewdrops dripping,
I wish somehow I could wash
this perishing world

That great blue oak
indifferent to all blossoms
appears more noble

Awakened at midnight
by the sound of the water jar
cracking from the ice

Summer grasses:
all that remains of great soldiers'
imperial dreams

From all these trees-–
in salads, soups, everywhere-–
cherry blossoms fall

Singing, planting rice,
village songs more lovely
than famous city poems

I would like to use
that scarecrow's tattered clothes
in this midnight frost

Lonely silence,
a single cicada's cry
sinking into stone

Sick on my journey,
only my dreams will wander
these desolate moors -- Basho's death poem

Some haiku by Buson

Rain falls on the grass,
filling the ruts left by
the festival car

An evening cloudburst
sparrows cling desperately
to trembling bushes

At a roadside shrine,
before the stony buddha
a firefly burns

A long hard journey,
rain beating down the clover
like a wanderer's feet

In a bitter wind
a solitary monk bends
to words cut in stone

The thwack of an ax
in the heart of a thicket
and woodpecker's tat-tats!

With the noon conch blown
those old rice-planting songs
are suddenly gone

Clinging to the bell
he dozes so peacefully,
this new butterfly

Fallen red blossoms
from plum trees burst into flame
among the horse turds

In seasonal rain
along a nameless river
fear too has no name


Thus spring begins: old
stupidities repeated,
new errs invented

Just beyond the gate,
a neat yellow hole
someone pissed in the snow

The winter fly
I caught and finally freed
the cat quickly ate

As the great old trees
are marked for felling, the birds
build their new spring nests

The distant mountains
are reflected in the eye
of the dragonfly

Before this autumn wind
even the shadows of mountains
shudder and tremble

Don't kill that poor fly!
He cowers, wringing
his hands foe mercy

From the Great Buddha's
great nose, a swallow comes
gliding out

Under this bright moon
I sit like an old buddha
knees spread wide

The young sparrows
return into Jizo's sleeve
for sanctuary

*Jizo is the patron bodhisattva of children and travelers.

A world of trials,
and if the cherry blossoms,
it simply blossoms

In my hidden house,
no teeth left in the mouth,
but good luck abounds

The new year arrived
in utter simplicity--
and a deep blue sky

Just to say the word
home, that one word alone,
so pleasantly cool

Other Poets

On Buddha's birthday
the orphaned boy will become
the temple's child -- Kikaku (1661-1707)

A single yam leaf
contains the entire life
of a water drop -- Kikaku

Settling, white dew
does not discriminate,
each drop its home -- Soin (1604-1682)

To learn how to die
watch cherry blossoms, observe
chrysanthemums -- Anonymous

A single leaf falls,
then suddenly another,
stolen by the breeze -- Ransetsu (1654-1707)

Without a sound,
munching young rice-plant stalks,
a caterpillar dines -- Ransetsu

Divine mystery
in these autumn leaves that fall
on stony buddhas -- Sogetsuni (d.ca.1804)

When the bush warbler
sings, the old frog belches
his reply -- Shoha (19th century)

Just when the sermon
has finally dirtied my ears-
the cuckoo -- Shoha

20 May 2008, 10:52 PM
Some Haiku Techniques: There's More than what Meets the Eye!

How do you go about writing your own haiku? You have read some or many of them, been impressed with what you read, you have similar, unique observations to versify, but can't make it that neat? Here are some tips to writing good haiku. (Incidentally, the plural form of haiku is also haiku.)

Form and arrangement of syllables

We said that a haiku is a terse poem in 3-lines having a total count of 17 syllables: 5-7-5 for the three lines. In Japanese, there are only sounds--not syllables--of words (for example, the word 'haiku' has two syllables in English, 3 sounds in Japanese: ha-i-ku). Thus with 17 syllables you can have more content to write a haiku in English. For this reason, many English haikus are shortened to have only 11 to 14 syllables arranged usually thus: 3-5-3, 4-6-4, and in between.

Based on the form of the classical Japanese haiku, it is generally agreed today that the English haiku employ:

• Use of three (or fewer) lines of about 17 or fewer syllables
• Use of a season word (kigo)
• Use of a cut or caesura (sometimes indicated by a punctuation mark) to contrast and compare, implicitly, two events, images, or situations

Content: three main teniques

The 'big picture' (or rather 'small picture' if you prefer) in a haiku is formed by one or more of the three main techniques (says Betty Drevniok who wrote a haiku primer): comparison, contrast and association.

The technique of comparision, in the words of Betty Drevniok: "In haiku the SOMETHING and the SOMETHING ELSE are set down together in clearly stated images. Together they complete and fulfill each other as ONE PARTICULAR EVENT."

a spring nap
downstream cherry trees
in bud

Here the buds of the trees are compared flowers taking nap, but this is not explicitly expressed. The comparison is supplied by the reader, whose thoughts also primed on what other comparisions could be substituted in the first line for the other lines, and in the other lines for the first line, and so on.

Most surprises in life are constrasts, so the technique of contrast can be effectively employed in a haiku:

long hard rain
hanging in the willows
tender new leaves

The opposites create excitement in the reader, as the contrast also involves a relation.

Contrast and comparison gives rise to the technique of association that helps to see the 'oneness' in the many.

the wild plum
blooms again

(If you wonder about the association here, just add the word 'and' at the end of the first line!)

moving into the sun
the pony takes with him
some mountain shadow

The pony does not take its own shadow with it, but the mountain's shadow, as it falls on the animal in half.

Other Techniques

In the technique of the riddle, the 'trick' is to state the riddle in as puzzling terms as possible, so when the reader ultimately finds the connection, he/she is surprised.

spirit bodies
waving from cacti
plastic bags

"... the old masters favorite trick with riddles was the one of: is that a flower falling or is it a butterfly? or is that snow on the plum or blossoms and the all-time favorite – am I a butterfly dreaming I am a man or a man dreaming I am a butterfly. Again, if you wish to experiment (the ku may or may not be a keeper) you can ask yourself the question: if I saw snow on a branch, what else could it be? Or seeing a butterfly going by you ask yourself what else besides a butterfly could that be?--Jane Reichhold"

The technique of sense-switching needs to be used with discretion. It involves appealing to two different senses in the three lines:

home-grown lettuce
the taste of well-water

You can narrow focus, using a wide-angle lens on the first and a normal one on the second lines. Buson employed this technique frequently.

the whole sky
in a wide field of flowers
one tulip

You can use a simile or metaphor:

a long journey
some cherry petals
begin to fall

or sketch a scene:

waves come into the cove
one at a time

Puns and word play are also effective:

a sign
at the fork in the road
"fine dining"

moon set
now it's right – how it fits
Half Moon Bay

The word play could be a verb/noun exchange:

spring rain
the willow strings

In the technique of close and leap linkage, the comparisons and associations are closed or wider ones, which the readers see early or late:

winter cold
finding on a beach
an open knife

the early spring sunshine
in my hand

In the mixing up of actions, the reader is left wondering if the action is that of nature or humans:

end of winter
covering the first row
of lettuce seeds

The term Japanese 'sabi' in the technique of sabi/wabi implies many meanings: loneliness, solitude, miserable, insignificant, and pitiable, asymmetry and poverty.

rocky spring
lips taking a sip
from a stone mouth

coming home
by flower

parting fog
on wind barren meadows
birth of a lamb

Yűgen is a Japanese term that implies 'mystery', 'unknowable depth', 'spooky' or simply 'old'.

tied to the pier
the fishy smells
of empty boats

Using a paradox will engage interest and give the reader much to think about, but it is not easy to do it effectively, so the reader ultimately discovers the connection:

climbing the temple hill
leg muscles tighten
in our throats

Close to paradox is the picture of an improbable world. Again, this is an old Japanese tool which is often used to make the poet sound simple and child-like. Often it demonstrates a distorted view of science – one we 'know' is not true, but always has the possibility of being true (as in quantum physics).

evening wind
colors of the day
blown away

waiting room
a patch of sunlight
wears out the chairs

Using humour is tricky because everyone does not have the same tolerance for wisecracks, jokes, slurs, etc.

dried prune faces
guests when they hear
we have only a privy

The Above as Below Technique: Seeming to be a religious precept, yet this technique works to make the tiny haiku a well-rounded thought. Simply said: the first line and the third line exhibit a connectedness or a completeness. Some say one should be able to read the first line and the third line to find it makes a complete thought. Sometimes one does not know in which order to place the images in a haiku. When the images in the first and third lines have the strongest relationship, the haiku usually feels 'complete'. For exercise, take any haiku and switch the lines around to see how this factor works or try reading the haiku without the second line.

holding the day
between my hands
a clay po

This ku is also using the riddle technique.

1. Haiku Techniques by Jane Reichhold

2. Haiku article at Wikipedia