Wordsmith Wednesday: More About Haiku

Basho by Basho by Sugiyama Sanpû (1647-1732)

Image via Wikipedia

“In this mortal frame of mine…there is something called a wind-swept spirit, for it is much like thin drapery that is torn and swept away at the slightest stir of the wind.” Basho, 1687

Last week when I had limited Internet access I had time to read Jane Hirschfield’s informative and beautifully written book on Haiku: “The Heart of Haiku.” Focused on the life and works of the 17th Century Japanese word artist (and I would say, mystic) Basho, Hirschfield peppers her exposition with elegant examples and succinct instruction.

Most of the time, after I’ve completed reading a book on Kindle, I send it to the archives at Amazon and then recall it if there’s something I want to rehash. This book, however, will reside on my device both as a source of instruction and inspiration.

Here are a few brief points that I would like to share with you about the art of Haiku:

  • Unless something is seen with a fresh eye, it is not worth writing down. (after Basho)
  • While English Haiku is written using the 5-7-5 syllable line structure, Japanese poetry is based on sounds.
  • Haiku always evokes a season, either by name or association.
  • Haiku offers the chance to make emotional, spiritual and psychological discoveries.
  • Haiku seeks to eliminate the space between the poet and the object of his poem. This allows the poet to truly perceive the object.
  • The new perception becomes the basis for an inner response on the part of the poet and reader.
  • The five-line Tanka (or Waka) preceded the Haiku. The syllable count for Tanka is 5-7-5-7-7.
  • Another poetic form called Renga consists of 3 and 2 line stanzas that build on one another. This form lends itself to collaborative poetry.
  • Basho taught: “If you have three or four, or even five or seven extra syllables, but the poem still sounds good, don’t worry about it.”

I strongly recommend “The Heart of Haiku” to anyone who loves this poetic form, has an interest in Zen Buddhism, or just wants to write poetry in which every word resounds.

For this weeks conversation, I am posting a Haiku that I wrote and would love to see you build on it in a collaborative effort. So when you visit this post, read all the comments and use the last Haiku posted as a prompt for your own that you will then add to the comments. I hope there will be enough of a response that I can compile them into a separate post. Of course, you will be acknowledged for your contribution.

Here’s the introductory Haiku:

Morning sun wakens

Arouses a ruddy sky

With his tender touch.

For more information on the Haiku form, you may want to visit my previous post: “True Haiku” written in June of this year: https://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/wordsmith-wednesday-true-haiku/

And this, my friends, is my 500th post! Thank you for all your encouragement.