What is haiku? How to write a haiku?

What is haiku? How to write a haiku?
21/12/2020 4 Comments Learnings | Reviews Saba
Haiku – have you ever come across this word and wondered what it is? If you are into poems, I’m sure you must certainly have had. Over the years, haiku has become one of the most adored poetic forms with several established writers and poets trying their hands at them. But what separates it from other forms of poetry? And what makes it so popular? 
Let’s seek answers to these questions by first understanding what a haiku actually is.


What is haiku?
Well, a Haiku is a type of short-form poem originating from Japan. A traditional Japanese haiku comprises three unrhymed lines and is composed in a 5, 7, 5 syllable pattern, consisting of a total of seventeen syllables. 
Other than the lines and syllable count, a haiku is expected to have an ideational break after the fifth syllable or the twelfth. It generally includes a seasonal word to connect it to nature. An important note – It is not metaphorical. However, these two aspects are often overlooked by modern writers.
With such limiting features, haikus are incredibly concise and deep to convey any meaning at all. The essence of this form of a poem lies in its structured form that perfectly conveys a meaning. For an impatient generation like ours that has a lot more to do than the time available, haikus are an amazing work of art that offers everything a poem should within 3 simple lines. 


Where did it come from?
Haiku developed as an element of an extended Japanese poem called renga. It was written as an opening stanza of renga and was known as hokku. As years passed, poets started to pen haiku as stand-alone poems. Eventually, haiku got its name in the 19th century from the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki.
Haiku has evolved as a popular poetic form with well-established poets and novelists embracing it. Modern haikus widely differ in the format and have their own style while still incorporating certain traditional elements. 
Tanka and senryū are other forms of Japanese poems resembling haiku.



Examples of haiku
Writers and poets all around the world have penned some amazing haiku. Yet a few of them top the list with their sense of perfection in structure and the idea conveyed.
Let’s walk through a few of them to understand better how a haiku is written.


  1. For love and for hate
Written by Masaoka Shiki, credited for reviving the haiku in its modern format, this little piece is undeniably among the most loved haikus.


For love and for hate
I swat a fly and offer it
to an ant.


  1. An old silent pond
Written by Matsuo Basho, An old silent pond is one of the world’s most famous haikus. 


An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.


  1. O snail
This Kobayashi Issa penned haiku is quite popular among the Japanese folks for its inspiring lines.


O snail
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!


  1. A summer river
The haiku master poet, Yosa Buson weaved this delightful haiku to share a pleasant experience.


A summer river being crossed
how pleasing
with sandals in my hands!


  1. The lamp once out
Natsume Soseki, a well-renowned novelist wrote this haiku.


The lamp once out
Cool stars enter
The window frame.


How to write a haiku? 
Now that you know what a haiku is, I’m sure you’d want to write one of your own. But how to go about it? 
Let’s get going.



Good writing comes from good reading. By now, you’ve read quite a few haikus. You know the elements you need to use. Once you’ve done the first step, you are good to jump to the second one.



Run to the window if you’re home. Better if you’re outdoor in the lap of nature. Look around. Look at the blue sky staring at you. The weeds dancing to the tune of the wind. Rivers singing along the woods. The fallen leaves. The lakes and spring.
Observe the trees and flowers. Look how they grow, how they bloom. Get inspired and choose an object. This object is around which your haiku will revolve.



Here comes the main part that includes the strict form of haiku. You have to write three lines with a 5-7-5 syllable structure. That means the first line has 5, the second line has seven and the last line has seven syllables. This sums up to 17 syllables.
If you have no idea about what a syllable is or how to count a syllable, you can learn it here or get it counted for you over here.
A lot of writing that makes sense, make use of at least one type of sense. Think about your object; how it feels, looks, smells, or sounds. Start by describing it. Prefer writing it in the present tense. Using the present tense will make it easier and more impactful.
The last line should unfold a surprise. The ending line must make the reader reflect on the poem as a whole.


Haiku is an excellent form of poetry for both amateurs and established poets. They are undeniably a wonderful addition to your creative writing skills that can improve your ability to mean much more than the number of words.
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  1. 1


    I’m gonna try this!

  2. 1

    Simran Sayed

    👍👍Write one o somanka as well

  3. 1

    Whinny Jaiswal

    Haikus are love

  4. 1

    Zaiba Shah

    Nicely explained. I have written a few haikus


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