Even birds aren’t chirping
Quiet winter afternoon
Tea makes it perfect
One of my friends, GPCox http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/ recommended your site to me. It’s lovely to read your haiku. I have just written my first haiku. Would you be interested in offering some suggestions on it? I wrote it to a 5-7-5 syllable pattern but I understand, now, that that is not necessary. My haiku is here http://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/4021/
About haikus written in non-Japanese languages, there are different opinions expressed by different writers regarding the 5-7-5 pattern. But I’d like to point out that these different opinions that say the pattern is not an absolute requirement in writing haiku poems are all voiced by non-Japanese writers. The haiku poem has been developed in Japan through hundreds of years, and any Japanese knows what a haiku poem is even without being formally taught. And the very basic rule that makes a haiku a haiku is that it is written in three lines consisting of 5 syllables for the first line, 7 for the second and 5 again for the last line. And this rule produces a very peculiar rhythm to our ear, which we think is very beautiful. This rule, however, does not work for, say, English because the two languages are pronounced very differently from each other. This difference can only be understand by a bilingual person, but, in short, in Japanese a consonant is also pronounced with an accompanying vowel while in English the pronunciation of a cluster of consonants is not rare. There are other rules about the haiku writing, but I’d say they can all be forgotten about in writing a haiku poem.
For about four past years, I’ve been trying to express that haiku rhythm in English, but never succeeded. I suppose I have written well over 1,000 haiku poems in English, but none of them sounds like a haiku when it is read. A difficulty here lies, to a certain extent, in the fact that in English, because it is pronounced with an accent as it is, the syllable is obscure as vowels in a word are given the different strength of stress while in Japanese each syllable, vowel, is always pronounced with almost equal strength of stress flatly without an accent to speak of. The word “ripen” which you used in your haiku can be pronounced differently by different people. You obviously pronounce it as a two-syllable word but some others may pronounce as a single syllable word by dropping the e to pronounce rip’n. Further, it may be pronounced as a three-syllable word by pronouncing the diphthong as two vowels.
I end here because I’ve written too long. I leave you with a haiku I wrote in the About in my blog: Whatever language/ Say it in 5-7-5 rhythm/ My heart will follow.
Thank you for your very detailed reply. I do appreciate it. I am fascinated by this important point you make “I suppose I have written well over 1,000 haiku poems in English, but none of them sounds like a haiku when it is read. ” I think I must listen to some haiku in Japanese and see what rhythm I can hear. You raise a very interesting issue about the different ways we pronounce words. It is not standard even within New Zealand.
The haiku rhythm has such an effect that it would stick to your mind when you hear it and you cannot easily forget it. So a well written haiku stays in the hearts of so many people. Though this effectiveness of the rhythm might not be reproduced in non-Japanese haikus, an English poem written in the haiku form, I believe, could have a tremendous possibility. I am beginning to realize this as I have already written many haikus in English. I hope you will also keep writing haiku poems and I’ll be looking forward to reading them.
I have just listened to a reading in Japanese of Matsuo Basho’s haiku on the Frog. The sound of the haiku is captivating. I can understand how it stays in your heart.
You are a good teacher, AshiAkira! Thank you!
Such a high honor. I thank you.
I have a small book with …haikus, signed by a Romanian teacher. He writes in romanian and english, but he doesn t respect the rules: Ex.
symposium with a
very hurried leaf..”
Do you think that it is a haiku?
In romanian he respects the rules:
colocviu cu o frunza
Yes, in romanian it sounds well, the translation isn t good! What a shame!
Haiku poems in Japan are written in accordance with the 5-7-5 syllable and other rules. These rules, developed through centuries, create the poem called haiku with the rhythm that it has and other characteristics. Obeying these rules in writing haikus in other languages to achieve the same effect as those traditionally written by Japanese writers is, I would say, is just impossible. I’m saying this after I’ve tried this by writing more than 1,000 haikus in English. I have no intention, however, of criticizing the writing of non-Japanese haikus by non-Japanese writers in disregard of the original rules as it is impossible to obey these. Haiku is a poem and a poem is a direct expression of how one feels about things, sees things, etc. In another words, it is a free expression of an individual and should not be a subject to any other person’s criticism. If one calls what he/she writes is haikus because they are written in three lines and in any other “self-made” rules, it is just fine with me. Just enjoy it. Who knows, out of ways of writing such “quasi-haikus”, a high artistic work may be born.
By the way, I have never written a haiku in Japanese. The reason is the writing rules are just a straitjacket to me. I enjoy writing them in English, hoping someday I might make an achievement that may surprise the world. Now I am beginning to see a tremendous possible of haikus written in English roughly following the 5-7-5 rule.
I wish you good inspiration and time for write new beautiful haikus!
Indeed tea does.
Ahhh, tea 🙂
your writing is simple but powerful.
Thanks for the visit to my blog.
Love the stillness of the poem. I really enjoyed the debate. I have only ever heard haiku in English, but I also found The Frog on youtube. This is new for me to think about these sounds. The final syllable sounds as if it has laughter. I can’t tell if this is just the speaker or if it is built into that syllable.
I’m glad you liked the debate. I’m not good at navigating on the internet and can’t find The Frog, but I take that it’s safe to say some original Japanese haikus are narrated by native Japanese speakers there. It’s the rhythm of haiku. English, by the way, sounded so beautiful to my ear that I “fell in love” with it when I first heard it spoken by the movie stars on the silver screen. I was still a teen then and lots of Hollywood films rushed in here in those days.
This is the site I found. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiZTrPVh81A The intro and the end are strange, but the poem is repeated several times in Japanese and English.
Thank you for the link. A haiku was read in the video in a way, I think, to make it easier for non-Japanese speakers to hear. This made it even more distinct the pronunciation of each syllable —fu-ru-i-ke-ya… to hear.
It’s been so cold around here…I haven’t heard birds chirping either.
Frozen voices, I think. 😉
Pingback: Haiku ~ Do you hear what I hear? | silkannthreades
I agree about the tea!
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