What is Haiku?

What is Haiku?

A Lesson by Dinesh Sairam

A definition


                 The most visible factor of a good haiku is, it communicates only one emotion. It may create a lot of other emotions in the reader, but from the writer's point-of-view, there should only be one - strong and relatable emotion. There's no room for ambiguity of feelings.

     The second most important aspect is the juxtaposition of imagery. Since a Haiku is too short for explanations, it's inevitable that each individual imagery should be raw and confusing. There should be 2 imageries (3 Maximum) and they should be independent of each other. No two imageries should have a connection in the normal sense.

       Thirdly, a Haiku should be about a passing thought. It should never tend to explain why or how the feeling happened. It should capture a momentary thought in brief descriptions.

Matuso Basho summarizes these points in his quote: "The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of its subject is good. Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent, we never tire of."

     The final characteristic of Haiku is the likeliness of being personal. No good Haiku is too philosophical or holds an 'universal view'. It's simply from the author's sense and memory, and does not go beyond to produce another person's thoughts.

The following are the examples of some good Haikus:

In nooks and corners
cold remains:
flowers of the plum
Yosa Buson.

bush clover in blossom waves
without spilling
a drop of dew
Matuso Basho.

storm clouds—
the deep red of the rose
in his tattoo
Allison Williams.

Detailed characteristics of a Haiku will be seen in later lessons. So, to summarize - only one emotion, no room for ambiguity, juxtaposition of imagery, a passing thought, the likeliness of being personal.

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Posted 5 Years Ago

Does haiku still have to have 5-7-5 format? It seems not, from all the ones you've given as examples.

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Posted 6 Years Ago

@musicfunk: Yes, they can. But since those stanzas would together form a story, it should be carefully handled. Otherwise, it might not be 'abstract'.

@Renee: Please refer to the chapter "Length (Syllable and Line)"

Thanks to Noa and happilyeverafter.

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Posted 6 Years Ago

These are missing the 5-7-5...

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Posted 6 Years Ago

can a haiku be compiled to form a for example a 5 stanza poem?
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Posted 6 Years Ago

Very helpful!

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Posted 6 Years Ago

It would be helpful if an example haiku accompanied this lesson. Perhaps you could add one? :)
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Dinesh Sairam
Dinesh Sairam

Tiruchirappalli, Tamilnadu, India

Follow @DineshThePoet An aspiring poet from the shady regions of Southern India. Inspired by the capital-G Great poets like William Shakespeare, Matuso Basho, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Willia..