Haiku Poetry: An Introductory Study


One of the major features of modern literature is experimentation. Hence, Haiku, Tanka1, Ghazal2 and many other foreign poetic forms became well-known forms in modern and contemporary American and English poetry and they found hundreds of practitioners. Most of the well-known dictionaries of literary terms define haiku as “a Japanese verse form consisting of seventeen syllables in three lines of five, seven and five syllables respectively” (Cuddon: 300). The three lines of a haiku, argues Kenneth Yasuda, correspond to the three elements of time, place and object (Yasuda: 179) which are the basic elements of any haiku. There is no haiku without these three elements. Take, for instance, this haiku by Basho, the most outstanding Japanese haiku poet:Spring MorningSeason of spring days!There a nameless hill has VeilsOf soft morning hazeHere, the translator is so honest that he keeps even the number of syllables the same as in the original: 5-7-5, with the first and third lines rhyming together to convey to the English reader a true impression of what haiku looks like.