Reading: Intro to Haiku
Talking about Intro to Haiku by Harold Henderson.
The 17 syllable (5-7-5) structure of Japanese haiku doesn't necessarily translate well into English, so Henderson prefers English haiku in the realm of 12-15. There are a few interesting reasons for this difference:
- There are no articles (the, a, an, etc.) and very few pronouns in Japanese.
- Punctuation is replaced by cut-words that have no translatable meaning but increase syllable count.
- Different grammar rules contribute to a very different sentence structure.
That said, even with a shorter syllable count, short-long-short is still the recommended structure for haiku. The general guidelines for writing haiku are as follows.
- Follow a short-long-short rhythm with fewer than 17 syllables (often 12-15).
- Include a single break in meaning that compares two adjacent, though dissimilar ideas.
- Reflect on nature or one of the four seasons.
- Try to share an experience of awareness with the reader.
(translations by Harold Henderson)
On a journey, ill, and over fields all withered, dreams go wandering still.
A lightning gleam: into darkness travels a night heron’s scream.
A new year starting, but— it’s still just as it stands here, this ramshackle hut!
The mists come; the mountains fade and vanish; the tower stands alone.
Night; and once again, the while I wait for you, cold wind turns into rain.
Icy the moonshine: shadow of a tombstone, shadow of a pine.