Poetic Forms – Haiku

This week we will highlight an ancient yet popular poetic form that originated in the beautiful country of Japan.

Haiku is an ancient Japanese poetry that evokes natural imagery and definite yet unstated emotional response in short unrhymed lines. They come in various short verses, and the most common form is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllabic pattern with 17 syllables. Haiku gained popularity during the Japanese Tokugawa era (1603-1867).

Basho is the most noted haiku master who elevated haiku as a highly refined and profoundly conscious art form. He became so attached to the art form that he fashioned his works to appeal to all sections of Japanese society.

Below is one of Basho’s earliest and renowned haiku.

On a withered branch

A crow has alighted;

Nightfall in autumn.

Haiku expanded and became an influential force in poetry after the second world war. Outside Japan, Ezra Pound wrote haiku in English. His poem, In a Station of the Metro, was considered the first haiku to be written in English.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on wet, black bough.

Today haiku are written and widely appreciated in different languages in many parts of the world.

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