Understanding HaikuObserving Nature Through Poetry
Experiencing the Natural World• Haiku (HI-coo) is a form of poetry, first made popular in ancient Japan, that has become appreciated around the world.• It is also a way of experiencing the world, especially the natural world.• It tries to capture an “a-ha” moment resulting from observing nature.
Achieving Enlightenment• Poets felt that by observing nature, they could achieve enlightenment.• The Japanese term for enlightenment is “satori” (sa-TOR-ee).• Satori or enlightenment occurs in the moment when the poet/reader is “united with” the object of nature he or she is observing.
Haiku Structure• Haiku does not have a title.• Lines of haiku do not rhyme.• Haiku does not use similes or metaphors.• Traditional haiku consists of 3 lines: Line 1 = 5 syllables Line 2 = 7 syllables Line 3 = 5 syllables
Haiku Images• Japanese haiku typically joins together two images.• Images are a direct observation of nature, simple and objective, not abstract.• Haiku images are perceived through one of your five senses.
Cuts and Pivot Words• A cut is a punctuation mark (such as a comma, hyphen, ellipsis, or colon) that separates the two images in a haiku.• A pivot word is the key word in the poem. It applies to both images and affects our perception of how the images relate. The pivot word often gives you an idea how the poet wants you to connect the two images. It can be as simple as a preposition such as “in.”
Joining Images• The two images in haiku are usually joined together to provide one of three things: • A comparison • A contrast • An association of some kind• Images are joined to provide an “a-ha” moment, a deeply observed moment in time
The Importance of a Season• Every haiku includes a kigo (KEE-go), a natural image that helps the reader identify the season.• In some haiku, the kigo is a specific mention of the season (spring, winter, autumn, or summer).
The Importance of a Season• Other haiku use an image that is meant to evoke a particular season. For example, snow evoke winter, falling leaves evoke autumn, and so on.• Some Japanese haiku depend on the reader to know when a natural phenomenon is most likely to occur. For example, cherry blossoms symbolize spring to a Japanese reader, and frogs symbolize summer.
Modern Haiku• Many English haiku poets and translators believe that adhering to the 17-syllable structure is less important than maintaining brevity and sharing the writer’s experience of the moment.• They believe that a more compressed form of 11 to 13 syllables for the entire haiku (with no specific syllable count for each line) better captures the spirit of Japanese haiku.