Behind me the moon

brushes shadows of the pine trees

lightly on the floor”

Kikaku

 

The beauty of haiku, is just as poetic as watching nature. That is why, Haiku is based on natural surroundings, the everyday little things we miss to acknowledge, and the mood of our atmosphere in tune with our life.

 

For those people, who wonder what a haiku is, let us understand it in three simple rules :-

• It is a 17 syllable Japanese poem.

• It is written in the format of 5-7-5 ( being 5 syllables in first line, 7 in second and 5 again in third).

• It is usually based on nature or mood of the surrounding.

 

 

 

Understanding how it works 

So as our basics are clear, we can understand how it actually works.

The first and second lines usually have a connection with each other, and the third line gives it another twist, quite unexpected by the reader which makes the Haiku so interesting to read.

 

A little backstory

The origin of Haiku was in Japan in the 19th century, when poets sat together and recited verses simultaneously. Originally it was known as hokku, later it became haiku.

 

Although it was originated in Japanese, many languages have now adapted haiku in their own versions without breaking some few ground rules. Even Japanese Haiku by famous poets such as Basho, Kikaku, Issa, Joso, etc are translated in many languages, one of being them English.

 

Haiku Harvest

I have read some translations from Haiku harvest, which in my knowledge has different volumes, but I have studied from series IV.

 

This version is translated by Peter Beilenson and Harry Behn with decorations courtesy of Jeff Hill. The beautiful sketches could be seen beside the haiku which excerpts the exact mood the haiku is based on with a hint of ecstasy to it.

They are truly beautiful to read.

 

That is why, I would like to mention some of them here :

This is the first Haiku of the book and my most favourite till now.

The imagery and the observation is beyond awe. How simply and wonderfully has Joso described the scene of winter, and the beauty of snow.

 

Snow whispering down

All day long earth has vanished

Leaving only sky”

Joso

The meaning would be, the snow has poured down all the day, because of which the land is completely covered with snow (the land is not visible any more), and hence the sky is now empty (all the snow has fallen).

 

The next one would be :

The poet has described the nature as a canvas and as in itself an artist. How effortlessly is the painting shown.

 

“Pine trees silhouette

Painted by the harvest moon

On a shining sky”

Ransetsu

 

The meaning would be, the moonlight of the harvest moon has made the sky shine so bright. The light falling on the pine trees, are painting their shadows behind.

 

The last one :

Out of the thousand thoughts that wander through our mind, wouldn’t this be the most innocent one?

 

“The leaves never know

Which leaf will be first to fall…

Does the wind know?”

Soseki

 

The meaning would be, no leaf ever knows when they are about to fall or die, but does the wind know? In a sense, does the wind choose their fate, or even the wind is unknown to the future and goes along its way. It’s more of a question than an answer itself.

 

 

While I go..,

These meanings are mere interpretations of what I felt when I read those Haiku. So everyone can have their own meanings and poems are usually open to various interpretations being a subjective field.

 

There are different books you can read on Haiku, or try different languages. This form of poetry slips into any mould, like magic.

 

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