So…why haiku this time?
Because they are popular, and I love them. Additionally, they are an interesting example of how other languages handle and organize sounds and words into poetry. In English, we use meter. Other languages do not use meter, or do not use it as English does.
But I know about haiku.
That’s great! It helps to build on something that we already know when trying to learn new things.
Okay, so…how do haiku work?
(I know I was taught a fair bit about haiku as a child, but I am going to talk as if you all don’t know many of these things. Therefore no one will be lost or confused.)
Haiku is a Japanese poetic form. Haiku have a single stanza of three lines. Line one is five syllables, line two is seven syllables, line three is five syllables again. This is what most people are taught.
In researching this, I discovered that haiku don’t have three lines when written in Japanese. They have only one; the three lines in English-language haiku point back to the three phrases that haiku have in Japanese.
Syllables, Morae and On
Japanese syllables are not syllables, but on (or morae). Japanese on are all the same length. Stress is more or less the same across all on. Since Japanese is a tonal language, you may hear high-tone on as stress. (Japanese has two tones. The other is low-tone.)
Haiku were once referred to as hokku. They grew out of renku (hokku is still the name for the first verse of a renku poem), and were viewed in that context for a time. In order to truly separate haiku from renku, Masaoka Shiki, a haiku author, suggested the name of haiku (an abbreviation of haikai no ku).
You told me that every poetic form has a recipe. What’s the recipe this time?
On (which we already talked about), a kigo, and the idea of kireji.