A Haiku is a short poem that consists of 17 syllables formed in 3 unrhymed lines. The first and third lines have 5 syllables, and the second line has 7 syllables. This type of poetry usually creates two clear images within the stanza relating to the topic. According to Japanese tradition, each Haiku primarily contains a kigo, a word that indicates the season in which the poem is set in. Haiku is a Japanese poem that beautifully portrays images of nature and has influenced the way people express their ideas.
This genre of poetry has one of the richest historical backgrounds of all of the common forms of poetry. Two reformists were credited for helping Haiku become its own poetic genre. One of the reformists was Matsuo Basho, considered the most famous poet in Japan, who helped in the late 1600s. The other reformist was Masaoka Shiki who furthered Mr. Basho’s work in the 19th century.
Haiku became better known in the 16th century. As surprising as it seems, the French were the first to read and recognize this type of poetry. Haiku originally wasn’t viewed as an independent genre of poetry because it was an extension of Renga (a genre of Japanese collaborative poetry). It originated from Hokku, which was the opening stanza of the Renga; now known as Haiku.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that Haiku poetry became known in western cultures, especially after World War II broke out in North America. Jack Kerouac, Albert Saijo, Lew Welch are all well-known American Haiku poets. On their trip from San Francisco to New York in 1959, they wrote Haiku poems about their journey. They later published a book out of the Haiku poems they wrote called Trip Trap. Allen Ginsberg is an American poet that wrote series of haiku poems called, “Mostly Sitting Haiku.” A famous African-American poet named Richard Wright wrote thousands of haiku poems, yet most were unpublished!
Haiku has had a major impact in the literary world. In the 1600’s, There are thousands of Haiku poems and many are still recited today. One example of a poem reads:
Raindrops falling down
Softly landing on your cheek
Like a kiss of nature