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Requirements of Haiku Poems


Haiku Haiku originated in Japan but haiku poems are now written in every language.

The haiku form of poetry originated in Japan where the 17th-century poet Basho is considered the "father" of the form. Haiku is sparse and has strict syllabic and line restraints yet the discipline has produced many beautiful and soulful poems. Haiku tends to focus on nature and the seasons. It captures a moment in time by distilling a moment's observation to its very essence. The form relies on acute observation with all the senses.

Line count

Each haiku poem consists of just three lines. Other poems with strict line counts include the sonnet which always has 14 lines. In longer poems there is ample time to explore themes, and describe ideas and feelings. In the short form of haiku, each word must count.

Syllables

In English, the first line of a haiku is made up of five syllables, the second line consists of seven syllables and the third line has another five syllables. "Stars fall to dark earth / splinter on a flake of glass / mirrors of cracked sky" is an example of haiku's syllabic form.

Rhyme

Haiku poetry does not usually rhyme at the end of the lines although there are exceptions. The main requirement is that the haiku should sound natural and not contrived. Some haiku poets prefer to rely on internal rhymes and half-rhymes instead of end rhymes.

History

Haiku developed out of the Japanese tanka poetry form. This consists of five lines of poetry: five syllables, followed by seven, followed by five and then two lines of seven syllables. The first three lines, called the "hokku", set the scene for the poem, typically focusing on a season or nature. At the end of the 18th century the first three lines took on an independent life as the haiku that we know today.

About the Author

Based on the south coast of the U.K., Sally Nash has been writing since 1988. Her articles have appeared in everything from "Hairdressers Journal" to "Optician." She has also been published in national newspapers such as the "Financial Times." Nash holds a Master of Arts in creative writing from Manchester Metropolitan University.

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