How to Make a Haiku Poem Using a Metaphor

The haiku is a form of Japanese poetry consisting of three lines and a total of seventeen syllables. Traditional haiku describe an event in nature, but modern haiku may describe indoor events and scenes or man-made objects. Writers of traditional haiku verse purposely avoided using metaphors, but modern writers bend the stringent rules of form to include symbolic language.

Choose a Subject

The subject of the poem may come from nature or from an observation of an everyday scene or event. After choosing a subject, you can write a description of it, but not in haiku form yet. For example,

"Yesterday as I was leaving work, I saw a bird perched on a tree branch. There were no leaves on the tree yet. The bird almost blended in with the color of the tree."

This is not an extraordinary sight, but something about it made the writer notice and remember it.

Write a Reaction

Write a reaction to the subject. It could be an emotion or new idea the scene brings to mind. The writer might have felt surprised and happy to notice the bird, or she might have thought about the interesting juxtaposition of the live bird on the dormant tree branch. Since she was coming from work, she may have felt refreshed to be outdoors observing the tree and the bird.

Establish the Metaphor

A metaphor is a comparison used to convey an idea or an emotion. It does not include the words "like" or "as" in the comparison. A writer may show the aggression of a soccer player by describing him as a "tiger on the field." In the bird on the tree branch example, the writer could compare the tree branch to "iron" causing the reader to think of it as hard, cold, dark or unforgiving. She may use the metaphor of "a whisper" to describe the bird as secretive, hidden or enticing.

Write and Rewrite

The first line of a haiku poem is five syllables, the second is seven and the last is five. Traditionally, the first and second lines describe the subject and the final line contains the reaction. A simple way to write this is to describe the subject literally in the first two lines and use the metaphor in the last line. For example:

Little, lively bird Perched on a late winter branch A whisper of spring

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