Reading: Intro to Haiku

Posted: reading

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:

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.

Selected poems

(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.

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