Haiku | Definition, History, Examples, Poems, Writers, How to Write, Rules

Haiku: Definition, History, Examples, Poems, Writers, How to Write, Rules

Haiku: An Essay


Haiku as worldwide verse – the very idea appears to be undeniable. After all, what began half a millennium ago as a Japanese poetic form now earns worldwide appeal and acclaim. For countless schoolchildren around the planet, from Aberdeen to Zhaoqing, haiku represents their first exploratory flight into the vast expanse of poetry. Haiku is created in dozens, maybe hundreds, of dialects beyond Japanese and English: Bengali hā’iku, Yiddish hʼayqw, Arabic alhaykw, Greek χαϊκού, Russian xайку, Mandarin páijù, Esperanto hajko. This inescapability, also resultant effect on writing and culture, generally owes to the way that the haiku is – in simple emphasis – any unrhymed sonnet in three expressions of five, at that point seven, at that point five syllables. By all means the tiniest major poetic form on the planet, probably the most recognized and practised, the haiku is so simple, even a kid can do it.

Haiku Definition

A haiku is a particular kind of Japanese sonnet which has 17 syllables partitioned into three unrhymed lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Haikus or haiku are ordinarily composed to evoke natural imagery. The word haiku (articulated hahy-koo) is originated from the Japanese word hokku signifying “beginning stanza.”

Haiku History

During the Heian time of Japanese culture (700-1100), it was a social necessity to have the option to immediately perceive, acknowledge and present Japanese and Chinese verse. It was around this period that short types of verse (tanka) developed in notoriety over long types of verse (choka). The unbending ways of life of the time continued into workmanship; each sonnet needed to have a particular structure. The endorsed structure was the 5-7-5 trio followed by a couplet of seven syllables (this was the Japanese proportional to the predictable rhyming of Shakespeare’s England).

From this structure built up the renga (connected section) and the kusari-no-renga (chains of connected stanza). These structures were utilized nearly as parlor games for the first class. Nonetheless, during the sixteenth century there started an ascent in “laborer” verse. It was then that Japanese verse went through a resurrection wherein the grave types of the past were supplanted with a lighter, airier tone. This new structure was called haikai and was later named renku.

Haiku originates from a “first refrain” called hokku. The hokku was viewed as the most significant aspect of the sonnet. It had two head necessities: an occasional word (kireji) and a “cutting word” or outcry.

Japanese writers started to adopt unfamiliar scholarly strategies in verse as Japan was opened up toward the West. Columnist, author, and writer, Masaoka Shiki, exploited when he authoritatively made hokku an autonomous sonnet during the 1890s called haiku (singular and plural spelling) and carried haiku into the twentieth century.

Also Read:

The artist Matsuo Basho mixed another reasonableness and affectability to this structure in the late seventeenth century. He changed the poetics and transformed the hokku into an autonomous sonnet, later to be known as haiku. Basho’s work centered around the idea of karumi (a feeling of lightness) – to such an extent that he rejected the conventional syllabic constraints to accomplish it.

Haiku Form

Haiku poetry form and structure in terms of haiku syllables and sentences is very complicated if one aims to translate it in another language.  A few translators view that 12 English syllables would relate more closely to the 17 sounds approached utilized by Japanese haiku poets. Another basic contrast brought into the world out by translations is that Japanese haiku are composed straight across in one line, while English-speaking artists utilize two line breaks to isolate their sonnet into three lines.

Notwithstanding, there is a typical structure that most haiku sonnets follow. It is the 5-7-5 structure, where:

The whole sonnet comprises of only three lines, with 17 syllables altogether

The main line is 5 syllables

The subsequent line is 7 syllables

The third line is 5 syllables

Punctuation and capitalization are up to the poet, and need not follow the rigid rules used in structuring sentences.

A haiku does not have to rhyme, in fact usually it does not rhyme at all.

It can include the repetition of words or sounds

Haiku how to Write: Step by Step Guide

In the early periods of English haiku composition, the predominant philosophy how to write haiku was, sometimes implied and occasionally expressed, as being: if the author’s mind/ heart was correctly aligned in the “proper” attitude, while experiencing a so-called “haiku moment,” one merely had to report on the experience to have a superb piece of haiku.

And while many others shared the frustration of having a truly life-altering moment of insight and then never being able to write a decent haiku that expressed the wonder and majesty of that moment. They would ask, what was wrong with me?

The truth is: probably all of the bellow points can change one’s ability to write good haiku.

  1. Before you can figure out how to compose haiku, you should have the option to read haiku in order to better understand haiku. That sounds genuinely straightforward, yet like all that else worried about haiku, levels are covered under levels and archaic exploration appears to be a piece of cake in warm sand.
  1. Read them not exclusively to perceive what has been thought, and to delight in this sharing, but allow the words to move across any similar memory or past idea you may have had. In this manner the haiku get your examples as iron filings arrange themselves on a magnet to be changed in a once in a blue moon relationship.
  1. Ask your mind why you are writing haiku. The primary answer is “simply you can!” But to get it done you need to train your mind. Haiku can be spoken and left just to linger palpably. Or then again you can record them on the littlest bit of paper—to spare and relish the idea of your snapshot of motivation. When you start to save your though, your ideas, your musings, you will all the more cautiously notice the thoughts of others which have been saved as haiku.
  1. Be Ready to Change Your Ideas of Poetry. Verse is the thing that occurs between the words. Words resemble signboards or waymarkers that permit the reader to follow the steps the author’s mind has taken to come to a poetic idea. Vision is seeing, and in seeing we identify the thing which is portrayed in a new style.
  1. Choose what sort of haiku you’d prefer to compose. You can decide to follow the 5-7-5 syllable style, or choose you need to be more experimental with your structure and modify the quantity of syllables. In case you’re composing an English haiku, you’ll separate your sonnet into three lines.
  1. Decide your topic. Focus on little subtleties around you. Nature topics are generally regular in haiku, so begin to see things like flying creatures or leaves outside, the manner in which the air feels, or even a smell noticeable all around. Just follow your passion of likeability as well as readers’ choice too.
  1. Draft a chart of words related to the subject you have picked. Try to be as descriptive as possible. Consider sentiments and feelings as well.
  1. Use short phrases that evoke strong images. Think of how Japanese poets use kigo, and choose images that symbolize a season (say, blossoming cherry flower for spring) to set a mood with very few words.
  1. Use a kireji or “cutting word” to create a break in the meter. Remember to use punctuation in conjunction with a kireji to control the rhythm of the poem.

     10. Compose two lines about something delightful in nature. You can utilize the photos underneath to give you          thoughts. Don’t worry about counting syllables.

  1. Compose a third line that is a total surprise that is tied in with something totally unique in relation to the initial two lines.
  1. Use verb forms in present tense.
  1. Avoid capital letters and punctuation.
  1. Avoid rhymes.
  1. Have your eye at the three lines together. Does the mix of these two apparently random parts propose any astonishing connections? Does it give you any fascinating thoughts?

Haiku Rules

  1. Write 5-7-5 syllables in the three lines.
  1. Write lines of any length but have only seventeen syllables in the whole haiku.
  1. Write seventeen syllables in one line.
  1. Write seventeen syllables in a vertical (flush left or centered) configuration with one word on each line. This method makes one read the work more slowly because the eyes must travel back and forth so often.
  1. Use less than seventeen syllables written in three horizontal lines as short, long, short.
  1. Use less than seventeen syllables written in three vertical lines as short, long, short.
  1. Write what can be said in one breath.
  1. Use a season word (kigo) or seasonal reference.
  1. Use a caesura at the end of either the first or second line, but not at both line ends.
  1. Never have all three lines make a complete or run-on sentence.
  1. Have two images that are only comparative when illuminated by the third image. Example: spirit retreat / cleaning first the black stove / and washing my hands
  1. Have two images that are only associative when illuminated by the third image. Example: fire-white halo/ at the moment of eclipse / your face
  1. Have two images that are only in contrast when illuminated by the third image.

Example: two things ready / but not touching the space between / fire

  1. Always write in the present tense of here and now.
  1. Make limited use, or non-use, of personal pronouns.
  1. Use personal pronouns written in the lower case.

Example: i am a . . .

  1. Eliminate all the possible uses of gerunds (“ing” endings on verbs).
  1. Study and check the articles. Do you use too many of the words “the” or “a,” or too few? Are they all the same in one poem or are they varied?
  1. Use common sentence syntax in both the phrase and the fragment.
  1. Use three sentence fragments.
  1. Study the order in which the images are presented (e.g., first the wide-angle view, then the medium range, and lastly the zoomed-in close-up).
  1. Save the “punch line” for the end line.
  1. Work to find the most fascinating and eye-catching first lines.
  1. Write about ordinary things in an ordinary way using ordinary language.
  1. Study Zen and let your haiku express the wordless way of making images.
  1. Study any religion or philosophy and let this echo in the background of your haiku.
  1. Use only concrete images.
  1. Invent lyrical expressions for the image.
  1. Attempt to have levels of meaning in the haiku. On the surface it is a set of simple images; underneath, a philosophy or lesson of life.
  1. Use images that evoke simple rustic seclusion or accepted poverty, (sabi)
  1. Use images that evoke classical, elegant separateness. (shibumi)
  1. Use images that evoke nostalgic, romantic images of austere beauty, (wabi)
  1. Use images that evoke a mysterious aloneness. (yugen)
  1. Use a paradox.
  1. Use puns and wordplays.
  1. Write of the impossible in an ordinary way.
  1. Use only lofty or uplifting images—no war, blatant sex, crime, or local news.
  1. Tell it as it is in the real world around us.
  1. Use only images from nature with no mention of humanity.
  1. Mix subjects of humans and nature.
  1. Designate humans as non-nature and give all these non-nature haiku another name, such as senryvi.
  1. Avoid all reference to yourself.
  1. Refer to yourself obliquely as the poet, this old man, or with a personal pronoun.
  1. Use no punctuation for ambiguity.
  1. Use all normal sentence punctuation.

: = a full pause

; = a half stop or pause

. . . = something left unsaid

, = a slight pause

— = saying the same thing in other words

. = full stop

  1. Capitalize the first word of every line.
  1. Capitalize the first word only.
  1. Capitalize proper names according to English rules.
  1. All words in lower case.
  1. All words in upper case.
  1. Rewrite any rhymes.
  1. Rhyme last words in the first and third lines.
  1. Use rhymes in other places within the haiku.
  1. Use alliteration—repetition of sounds—that relates to the subject matter in order to increase a certain feeling.
  1. Use the words that you hear in your head only.
  1. Always end the haiku with a noun.
  1. Write haiku only from an “aha” moment.
  1. Use any inspiration as a starting point to develop and write haiku.
  1. Avoid too many, or nearly all, verbs.
  1. Cut out prepositions (in, on, at, among, between) whenever possible, especially in the fragment.
  1. Eliminate adverbs.
  1. Don’t use more than one modifier per noun. Their use should be limited to the absolute sense of the haiku.
  1. Share your haiku by adding one at the close of your letters.
  1. Treat your haiku like poetry; it’s not a greeting card verse.
  1. Write down every haiku that comes to you. Even the so-called bad ones. It may inspire the next one, which will surely be better.

A Haiku about Haiku:

I am first with five
Then seven in the middle —
Five again to end.

Japanese Haiku Poetry

this autumn

with no child upon my lap

gazing at the moon


until last year

scolding over muskmelons

now an offering



voices of cicadas

piercing stone


on the horizon

no hint of imminent death:

cicadas crying


how woeful!

the wail of a cicada

caught by a hawk


caged bird

glaring with envious eyes

at butterflies!


chopsticks dropping

not for the thunderbolts

but for the cuckoo



nobles of yore taking up

bows and arrows


even stones and trees

incandescent to the eye –

sweltering heat!


lone fly

closing in around me –

winter confinement



on the store’s comicbooks –

spring breeze


the mistress –

only four or five inches

and her work is done

                                                           Author unnamed

merely diddled

the maidservant’s face appears

down in the mouth


being skilled at

feigning infatuation

makes one popular


heaven knows! earth knows!

the whole neighbourhood knows!

except the parents


Haiku about Nature

Here is a small list of haiku on nature.

1.Leaves gracefully dance

  As if the wind tickles them

  Whoosh! the wind sings only.

  1. Busy little ants

  Doing work for their kingdom

Marching like soldiers.

  1. Tree branch sways slowly

 As a child sings a sweet song

 Gracefully it goes

  1. A great wide valley
    Birds flying freely and wild

            Over horizons.

  1. Fresh scented flower
    Makes a kid smell near to it

          Achoo! Oops, bless you

Haiku for Love


  1. I love you like mountain snow
    so fresh, so fallen
    but the path waits for breaking
  1. I spoke you into life
    My words unbraiding your bones
    Don’t you need me now?
  1. Together in clime
    We two stones stood for decades
    slanting ever near
  1. For you to touch me
    I have to traverse planets
    Why don’t you see me?
  1. Take me into space
    Where no one can hear us scream
    Hold me between stars
  1. Your breath on my neck . . .
    Let’s hold each other tightly
    and pray for new death
  1. I have wanted you
    since we were born in shadow
    Demon loverboy


Haiku on Life


  1. We can’t resist it.
    When we laugh at life’s folly,
    our heart is singing.
  1. Children playing games.
    Hide and seek and kick the can.
    An old man skipping.
  1. Tears, moist emotions.
    A lost love, fond memories,
    joy in good fortune.
  1. Consider me

as one who loved poetry

and persimmons

  1. My life

How much more it remains?

The night is brief

  1. When you touch a life,
    strive to leave it the better
    for the change you make
  1. Life without challenge
    is life denied any chance
    for one to achieve.
  1. Some believe they can,
    Some believe that they cannot.
    Both are clearly right
  1. We are successful
    the moment we start toward
    a laudable goal
  1. The world around us
    conforms to expectations
    we place upon it


Haiku Poems for Kids

  1. My homework is late
    Dog ate it before breakfast
    Very helpful dog
  1. Santa is coming
    He rewards good behavior
    No presents for me
  1. Goblins, witches, ghosts
    Loud banging on my front door
    I hide the chocolate (about Halloween)

Haiku Writer

Edo period

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Yosa Buson (1716-1783)

Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827)

Meiji period and later

Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902)

Takahama Kyoshi (1874-1959)

Saito Mokichi (1882-1953)

Taneda Santoka (1882-1940)

Nakamura Kusatao (1901-1983)


Jorge Luis Borges

Allen Ginsberg

Jack Kerouac

Octavio Paz

Gary Snyder

Richard Wright

Indian Haiku Poets

Anitha Varma

Johannes Manjrekar

Madhuri Pillai

Pravat Kumar Padhy

Ramesh Anand

Kala Ramesh

Haiku Generator or Haiku Maker

If you wish you can write haiku easily through the following online haiku generator:

  1. Poem Generator
  2. Write a Haiku
  3. Interactive Haiku Generator
  4. Poem of Quotes
  5. Fantasy Name Generator
  6. Every Poet 


Leave a Comment