Introduction: Japan is a country where many customs, ways of living, sounds, smells, and tastes are different than they are in our country. Hundreds of years ago, the Japanese created an art form – in the shape of a small verse. The verse is haiku (HIGH-koo). In haikus, we share the thoughts, the moods, and the feelings of the Japanese poets. I love Haikus, even though they are very tricky to write! I feel like my skills as poet are always tested when I begin to write Haikus. As the Haiku master, Matsuo Basho once said, “A poet needs to discipline himself every day.” To write a Haiku you truly need to be disciplined in poetry so make sure you practice!
The Essential Haiku – Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa: To learn about Haikus we will study the work of the three masters of Haku! The book we will read from is called The Essential Haiku – Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa.
A brief history of Haikus:
Haikus grew from an early writing form called tanka in which one person wrote the first three lines of a poem. A second person wrote the closing two lines. The great Japanese writer, Basho (1644-94) grew tired of this game. He felt that the first three lines could stand-alone. In this way, Haiku was born.
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 a Haiku written by the great Japanese writer Basho. Ask yourself, what season is it?
This snowy morning
That black crow I hate so much ….
But he’s beautiful!
These Haiku verses were written by kids. As 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
A castle standing
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 meaning.” Here is 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 will
We be able to witness
A dragon hatching?
How to write a Haiku:
1. 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.
2. Write down your image using 10 to 15 words. Then put it into the 5-7-5 form.
3. Try to make others see your picture or idea. An illustration of what you are trying to express might help
Your Assignments: PLEASE READ ALL THREE OF THEM!
Assignment 1: TURN YOUR “I AM POEM” INTO A SERIES OF HAIKU’S
Your mission is to turn your “I am poem” into a series of Haiku’s. There are a total of 18 lines in your “I am Poem” You must put the 18 lines into 6 groups of 3. It doesn’t matter which 3 you decide to put into a group. The important thing is to have a total of 6 Haikus that have 3 lines in them.
Assignment 2: What am I? Haikus: These act like a riddle. You use “What am I?” Haikus to describe something! We will take the “What am I” Haikus to play a guessing game. The class will try to attempt to guess what you are describing after listening or reading your Haiku
Assignment 3: Seasonal Haiku: Describe one of the 4 seasons using the Haiku form.
Here are 2 examples of a “What am I?” Haiku:
1) Green and speckled legs, 2) In a pouch I grow
Hop on logs and lily pads On a Southern Continent
Splash in cool water. Strange Creatures I know.
Here is an example of Turning your I am poem into a series of Haikus
Here is a sample of what I made up for my “I am Poem”
- I am bold and Energetic
- I wonder what the meaning of life is
- I hear the sound of silence bouncing against the wall
- I see myself when I look in the sky
- I want equality in wealth
- I am bold and energetic
- I pretend to not be shy
- I feel like a pink elephant
- I touch the thoughts of my imagination
- 10. I worry about people living in poverty
- 11. I cry when I think about people passing away
12. I am bold and energetic
The next step is to pick three lines that you think will go well together and start putting them into the 5-7-5 syllable format.
I like lines 6,7,9. (It is important to note that I could have picked any 3 lines but I chose lines 6-7-9 because I thought they would sound nice together). Now I need to figure out how to cut each line into the correct format.
6. I am bold and energetic
7. I pretend to not be shy
9. I touch the thoughts of my imagination
Here is one way I can turn my I am poem into a Haiku:
My bold energy
Pretending not to be shy
Thoughts inside my head
How 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 idea.
An illustration of what you are trying to express might help.