Haiku

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haiku

Haiku (俳句) is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 moras (syllables), in three metrical phrases of 5, 7, and 5 moras respectively. These short, short poems generally refers to a real event, something that the writer experiences or observes of their surrounding at a given moment. In this regard, Haiku may be considered an unusual form of storytelling, of very short stories. The simplicity of the poetry further evokes the imagination of the reader, who will make their own interpretation, thus creating their own story.

In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku. Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.

Famous Haiku writers:

Arakida Moritake (1549–1549)
Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694)
Nozawa Bonchō (c. 1640–1714)
Takarai Kikaku (1661–1707)
Onitsura (1661–1738)
Yokoi Yayū (1702–1783)
Chiyo-ni (1703–1775)
Yosa Buson (1716–1783)
Kobayashi Issa (1763–1827)

Masaoka Shiki (1867–1902)
Kawahigashi Hekigotō (1873–1937)
Takahama Kyoshi (1874–1959)
Samukawa Sokotsu (1875–1954)
Taneda Santōka (1882–1940)
Ozaki Hōsai (1882–1926)
Ogiwara Seisensui (1884–1976)
Natsume Sōseki (1867–1916)
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (1892–1927)

 

Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694)

BashoMatsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉) was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as a master of brief and clear haiku. His poetry is internationally renowned, and within Japan many of his poems are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites.

Bashō was born Matsuo Kinsaku (松尾 金作) the son of a low-ranking samurai. As a child he served the House of Tōdō Yoshitada (藤堂 良忠), who shared with Bashō a love for haikai no renga, a form of cooperative poetry composition. The sequences were opened with a verse in the 5-7-5 mora format; this verse was named a hokku, and would later be renamed haiku when presented as stand-alone works. Both Bashō and Yoshitada gave themselves haigō (俳号), or haikai pen names; Bashō's was Sōbō (宗房), which was simply the on'yomi reading of his samurai name of Matsuo Munefusa (松尾 宗房). In 1662 the first extant poem by Bashō was published; in 1664 two of his hokku were printed in a compilation, and in 1665 Bashō and Yoshitada composed a one-hundred-verse renku with some acquaintances.

 

leiden

"Ara umi ya Sado ni yokotau Ama no gawa"
(rough sea • stretching to Sado • the Milky Way).
Haiku by Basho on the wall of a building in the vicinity of Rijks Universiteit in Leiden, the Netherlands.

furu ike ya

"Furu ike ya Kawazu tobikomu Mizu no oto"
(old pond • frog jumps in • sound of water)

Matsuo Bashō's most famous haiku (written in 1682), perhaps the most famous haiku of all times.

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