PART I : Understanding Haiku - A beginner's Guide
The Classic Tradition of Haiku – An Anthology
|The Classic Tradition|
I read a beautiful anthology on The Classic Tradition of Haiku – edited by Faubion Bowers. This helped me to look more closely at the classical Haiku and understand its nuances and unravel those subtle hints which help one to complete the vivid image the poet is trying to create. So here it is... First an...
The Haiku Society of America, founded in 1968, spent two years and used some 200,000 words in letter exchanges among authorities before reaching a dictionary definition for Haiku. They are the world’s smallest poems, consisting of 17 syllables arranged in sequence of 5-7-5.
small stones dropping down a well
with a small splash
In Japanese, Haiku comprise as few as three or, at most, ten words but translation into English often requires many more. The reason being that the Japanese language has 50 sounds: 5 short and long vowels (Long vowels count as two syllables in haiku) that can combine with 14 consonants. By contrast, English has 20 consonants that combine with 6 vowels.
There is much discussion but little agreement among scholars as to whether haiku should be transcribed in one, two or three lines. In Japan haiku are usually printed in one vertical column but when handwritten on poem cards they often appear in three columns, making visible the 5-7-5 syllable impulse. Arthur Waley (1865-1966), an early translator of Japanese literature, wrote, “It’s not possible that the rest of the world will ever realize the importance of Japanese poetry, because of all poetries it is the most completely untranslatable”
In all their brevity, haiku do tell a story and paint a vivid picture, leaving it up to the reader to draw the meanings out and complete them in mind’s eye. Haiku lovers look for specific words and images to help reveal the deeper layers of meaning that expand the scope of each poem.
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Text curtsy “The Classical Tradition of Haiku”
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a) The views in the article are mine, where ever not mentioned otherwise. I have tried to give, as far as possible, all the sources of the text and images that I have used in the article, if I have missed out someone or something, let me know. I will amend the same.
b) I don’t claim to be an expert in Haiku (actually I don’t limit myself to the rules of classical Haiku hence I mostly call my writing in this genre as Haiku-T). This article intends to give a general idea about Haiku for the beginners as well as sharing of my thoughts about it. Those who are serious students of Haiku should either check with Haiku Society of America or the local universities.
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Thus Spoke Zarathustra - Nietzsche