Haiku is a short, naturalistic form of Japanese poetry , which emphasises a sense of immediacy and connection with nature. It first began as a form of humorous light verse, known alternately as haikai or hokku. It was Basho (1644 - 1694), who combined the two names, naming the form 'haiku' and giving it the depth and intimacy the form shows today.
There are several elements to haiku: the syllabic content, the season word, the 'aha' moment, the sense of connectedness to nature, and the sense of sabi .
The one that all American school children are taught is the syllabic content, or 5-7-5 format. In Japanese, which is a syllabic language, this format is considered 'standard'. However, in English and in many other languages with a Romance or Germanic base, the 5-7-5 format is relaxed. This is considered acceptable because there is considerably more information, and often more sounds, packed into a single English syllable than there is in a Japanese syllable. A good rule of thumb for an English-language haiku is somewhere between 13 and 17 syllables.
The season word in haiku is rarely explained in schools outside of Japan, but is actuallyContinued page 2/4