Saturday, March 26, 2016


Sunrise Spirit, Kiawah Island, SC

Haiku has its origins in thirteenth-century Japan as the opening to a longer oral poem. It was shortened seven centuries later to the traditional three-line poem with a 5/7/5 syllable count. Mini-haiku uses a 3/5/3 syllable count and some use only one or two words per line. However, the rules couldn’t apply to translations in foreign languages where the metrical syllables could not be retained leading to an evolution of more creative applications.

Enlightenment and illumination are often expressed. Haiku emphasizes simplicity and directness of expression from nature, but not always. The focus can be on a brief fleeting moment in time that evokes a sensory response to convey a feeling or image. It’s been noted that the secret to writing great haiku is to be observant and appreciative of your surroundings. If you observe something that prompts you to say “Look at that”, the experience is probably suitable for a haiku. The Japanese go for “ginkgo walks” to seek inspiration in their natural rural or even urban environments.

I find that haiku of four or more lines which are sometimes known as haiqua seem to follow more traditional lines of poetic expression without the restriction of applying only words that rhyme. Adverbs are optional and it’s OK to continue a phrase or thought on the following line. I like the 5/7/5 use of syllables per line and so I also expanded them to 5/7/5/7 for many of my haiku’s. The traditional Japanese haiku are written in a single vertical line. Each completed line prompts the next stream of consciousness. And good haiku engages the reader to join in the experience. Try it!

Walking to the beach,
at the first sign of daylight,
the wood access bridge,
glistened in the morning dew.

As light pierced darkness,
an ethereal figure,
stood still and alert,
as I quietly approached.

This regal egret,
had slept in the green lagoon,
and was awakened,
by my presence this new day.

Our kindred spirits,
joined that magical moment,
and walked together,
within a rainbow’s shadow.

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