How is a Japanese haiku characterized?

Haiku: 7 tips for writing the short poem + 22 examples

Haiku is an extremely short poem that traditionally comes from Japan. Poets from all over the world now use the poem form to express their perception of the world. In the following you will find out what a haiku exactly is and how you can write such a poem yourself.

A haiku is the shortest form of poetry in the world. It consists of only 17 Japanese sound units, which corresponds to about ten to 14 German syllables. We explain to you what else makes up the haiku and how to write such a short poem.

What is a haiku

What is a haiku

The haiku is characterized on the one hand by its shape and on the other hand by its content. It is a Three-linethat is in 5-7-5 Japanese moras (Japanese sound units). A Mora is not a common syllable, because a syllable can also contain several Moras, for example if a vowel is elongated, a n ends a syllable or has a double consonant. The usual form of haiku can therefore often not be adhered to in translations.

For a long time, the requirement in German was to write haikus in three lines with 5-7-5 syllables. However, since syllables are not to be equated with mores, this guideline has now been loosened up. Even words with two syllables can sometimes contain five mores. That is why German authors usually use ten to 14 syllables for a haiku and thus generate the same information content as the traditional Japanese short poem. You can find out more about poetry, poetry and poetry here.

But not only the external form is a characteristic feature of the haiku, the short poem also differs from other poem forms in terms of content. Because the haiku names specific circumstances and Momentsthat seem to take place in the present. That is why the poem should always be written in the present tense. Often times of the year are specially named or indicated with appropriate symbols. Feelings are not mentioned directly, but should only develop in the reader himself while reading. Symbols play an important role in haikus in general. Certain circumstances are associated with certain feelings or cultural themes, for example falling leaves for transience and pattering rain for death.

Writing a haiku: That's how it works

Writing a haiku: That's how it works

Haikus appear to be quite easy to write at first glance. However, there are a few rules that you need to follow while writing in order to formulate a proper haiku. In addition to its special form, the content often relates to certain subject areas - first and foremost the nature and Seasons. Of course, you can deviate from this topic for a modern haiku. For a traditional haiku, however, you should cover the usual topics.

Looking for inspiration in nature

If you lack the inspiration for a suitable topic, you can gather new impressions in nature and be inspired by the natural processes in nature. You can do a long Hike undertake or just relax in the garden put. It is important that you take the time and the necessary rest to perceive the external impressions with all their details. A seemingly unspectacular event is often described in great detail, such as a frog jumping into a pond. With the help of these impressions of nature, Haikus radiate serenity.

Read haikus

To get an idea of ​​the form, symbolism and content of the haiku, you can read through some haikus before writing and save them as Source of inspiration use. You can try to interpret the deeper meaning and familiarize yourself with the symbolism and the events described. Try to orientate yourself on these haikus in your first attempts at writing in order to comply with the specifications in terms of content and form.

Note the shape

The shape plays a central role in a haiku and ensures that your poem is recognized as a haiku. Of course, you cannot copy the traditional form in German 1: 1, but you should do your best to make your short poem recognizable as a haiku. Keep it that way three lines and try to make the middle line a little longer than the other two.

Let your senses speak

Haikus often describe a certain object, or rather a moment, with all of their senses. So go into nature and perceive your impressions with all your senses. These Sensory perceptions can help you later to put the experience and the associated feelings into words. Don't just focus on how the item looks, but also how it smells, tastes, and feels. So you can draw a more precise picture and bring your own feelings closer to the reader.

Formulate pictorially

Formulate your haiku in a pictorial way

In general, you should formulate your haiku very graphically. With this you can give your haiku a deeper meaning. Haiku writers - too Haijin called - often work with one underlying symbolism. Certain symbols of nature stand for religious and social issues that you too can take up in your haikus. At first glance, the short poems only seem to describe certain natural phenomena, but on closer analysis you can discover a profound topic behind them that is thought-provoking. It is important that you tell the reader Scope for interpretation and don't express your intention. This is another reason why the haiku is limited to three verses.

Use correct tense

Haikus always relate to the present and should therefore always be in the Present be formulated. Your haiku should sound as if you are observing and replaying the described moment in that moment. That is why this event is always specifically named. Sometimes the reader appeals to their own experiences, thus completing the haiku with their own experiences.

Convince with the last line

The last line of the haiku forms the poem again significantly, because it sometimes provides one or the other surprise and in some cases even reveals the object described. This line creates space for analysis. In some cases, she also provides one humorous twist. So your haiku can be funny at times and doesn't have to be thought-provoking. Modern haikus also often deviate from the original themes and sometimes even the form, so that you can also introduce personal problems and interests into your haikus.

Examples of haikus

Examples of haikus

So that you can get a better picture of the Japanese poem form, we have listed numerous examples of well-known haiku poets for you. The Japanese poet Matsuo Bashô (1643 - 1694) is considered one of the most important Haijin because he helped the short poem to gain recognition. At that time the poem form was still called Haikai. Haiku is the short poem only since Masaoka Shiki (1867 - 1902) founded the modern haiku. We have examples from both authors and, moreover, from other influential Haijin like Yosa Buson (1716 - 1783) and Kobayeshi Issa (1763-1827). You can find more beautiful poems in this article.

1. When there is foggy drizzle
That doesn't let Fuji see
The white face
(Matsuo Bashô)

2. Come on, let's go
Watching the snow, drinking sake
Stagger like flakes
(Matsuo Bashô)

3. So many things
Recalls me
The cherry blossom.
(Matsuo Bashô)

4. Orange trees
And here and there in the field
The call of the cuckoo.
(Matsuo Bashô)

5. In the storm of autumn
Broken and so sad
The mulberry bush over there.
(Matsuo Bashô)

6. As my eyes everything
Having seen, they returned
To the white chrysanthemum
(Matsuo Bashô)

7. An ancient pond
Before a frog jump
A little sound
(Matsuo Bashô)

8. Light a candle
on another candle,
An evening in spring.
(Yosa Buson)

9. Also loneliness
is sometimes something beautiful
Ah, the autumn evening!
(Yosa Buson)

10. Even if the winter cold is still sitting in the corners,
They will soon bloom
the plum trees.
(Yosa Buson)

11. Evening mist
Today I remember the old days
Oh, how distant it is!
(Kobayeshi Issa)

12. As a clamshell
Come out of the mountains
The moon of autumn!
(Kobayeshi Issa)

13. Don't worry.
The leaves are falling too
Off without grumbling!
(Kobayeshi Issa)

14. In the spring rain
She yawns long and wide
The beautiful girl.
(Kobayeshi Issa)

15. From deep darkness
Go into deep darkness
Cats in love.
(Kobayeshi Issa)

16. One evening in autumn
Ain't it easy
To be human.
(Kobayeshi Issa)

17. Only when the storm
The silver way ransacked
She bares the trunk
(Kobayeshi Issa)

18. Even on the smallest island
Has the farmer in the field
Above himself his lark.
(Kobayeshi Issa)

19th degree this morning
Fell quietly and very secretly
The first sheet off.
(Kobayeshi Issa)

20. The call of the cuckoo
The beggar on the bridge
Even listened.
(Kobayeshi Issa)

21. And it's spring again
To old follies
Follow new follies.
(Kobayeshi Issa)

22. In the evening breeze
The white rose petals
Everyone trembled.
(Masaoka Shiki)

Haikus translate using the example of "frog haiku"

The “frog haiku” exists in innumerable translations

A Japanese haiku can be translated into German in a variety of ways. Which translation is best for a haiku is often a matter of taste. One and the same haiku can be found in numerous variations. A well-known example of this is the frog haiku by the Japanese poet Bashô. In the above examples it can be found in the following form:

An ancient pond
Before a frog jump
A little sound

Other possible translations include:

The old pond:
A frog jumps into it.
Oh! The sound of the water.

Ancient pond.
A frog jumps into it.

Every single verse of the respective translation is different. However, the meaning always remains the same or only differs minimally. So these differences make little difference for the interpretation. The number of syllables also differs considerably, as the usual form in translations often cannot be adhered to. The various translations of the third verse are particularly striking here. The wording of this verse was probably difficult to translate into German and probably symbolized the Japanese sound for the sound of water. Again, this is typical of a haiku that tries to describe the perception of all the senses. You can find tips for a good poem analysis here.

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