Haiku

   Haiku is the worldfs shortest poetry form.  It has 17 syllables, arranged in three lines of 5-7-5 syllables.  Haiku grew out of another poetry form, tanka, which has 31 syllables of 5-7-5-7-7.  Haiku poets convey their vivid impression, sensation and surprise of a specific fact of nature in a short verse.  This requires an economical choice of suitable words for the best effect. 

   Leaving out the words is also important to bring out the point clearly.  The readers have to give full play to their imagination and read into what the poet wants to show in the 17 syllables.

   Every haiku has to contain a word symbolizing a season of the year.  For example, gfireflyh is one of the words of summer.  When a reader see this word in a haiku poem, he or she can picture the scene of a summer evening with some fireflies by a clean stream.  Readers have to be aware of this feature of haiku to appreciate it fully.   As Japan is blessed with four seasons, we have very keen appreciation of the changing of the seasons.  Thatfs why a word of the season, or kigo, is considered so important.

   In the 17th century, haiku was perfected by a poet named Basho Matsuo.  He travelled in Tohoku region and compiled a collection of poems, gOku no hosomichih, or gJourney of narrow path to the inner parth.  Here is one of his works;

                                                          Furuike ya                                      (An old pond)

           kawazu tobikomu                (a frog jumps in)

                                                          mizu no oto                                                   (sound of the water)



When you read it aloud, you will hear the pleasant 5-7-5 rhythm.  If it sounds pleasant to the ear, it will stay with the reader.  This is one of the charms found in a haiku poem.

Haiku is not only something that great poets can write.  Everyone can enjoy this art by putting his or her impression in 17 syllables.  Many people enjoy haiku poetry in clubs or on the internet, where each member is a poet, a reader and a critic.  Express yourself in 17 syllables and you too can be a poet!