Up Close~ A Look at Haiku

Add a hash tag to Haiku on Twitter, and your search results will treat you to an array of new and modern masters of this ancient poetic form.  With the new Renaissance of online poets and thinkers, this short form fits at times perfectly into the character limits on many social networking sites, and the new masters are spitting their wisdom, normally in 140 characters or less.

Alas, for many, Haiku is still nothing more than a poetic term force fed to us by an overbearing tenth grade English teacher.  For a lover of words, who has played with the form and felt the power that so few words can carry, it can become as powerful as their religion, cutting through the chaos to revel how they look at the world, and reflecting those thoughts back to the reader and appreciator.

To truly appreciate the power of the often underestimated form of Haiku, one only has to look at its history.

Typically presented in a 17 syllable form of three lines with a 5-7-5 syllable count, the Haiku is considered almost spiritual in nature.  With roots firmly planted in the Buddhist tradition, it is deceptive in its simple presentation.  Using nature and the physical realm as inspiration, a masterfully executed Haiku will, in its 17 syllables, reach deep into the ancient mysteries of our existence and will strum the strings our hearts with its depth.

Beginning in the Heian Period (700-1100) it became expected of the Japanese to be able to recite the poetry of their time.  This cultural trend saw the Tanka rise in popularity.  This short poetic form, a 5-7-5 triplet finishing with a couplet of seven syllables, was one that could easily be recognized, remembered and recited back with ease.

From the Tanka, the Renga would evolve, meaning linked verse, and from there the Kusari-no-renga, or chains of linked verse.  These short forms, almost musical in nature, would grow to be considered games for the social elite.  As human nature dictates, the have-nots would not be content to stand by and watch their social superiors hold the poetry of their people ransom.  The mid-sixteenth century would see a rise in peasant poetry.  This rise would put an end to the stringency of poetic forms and the new and lighter approach to the forms would come to be called Haikai, later to be named Renku.

The Haikai, in its form, started with a beginning triplet, referred to as a Hokku, considered the most vital component, consisting of two vital requirements; a seasonal word and a cutting word, or exclamation.

At the hands of the Poet Basho, the Hokko, would once again undergo even more manipulation. A constant traveller with journal in hand to record his ponderings, Basho is responsible for presenting us the form of Haiku we know today, transforming the Hokku into an independent poem based on an idea of sensibility and sensitivity.

Today`s Haiku is still evolving.  One of the most popular poetry forms of the twentieth century is charging ahead in its popularity.  New and unique forms are easily discovered by simply adding that little hash tag in your twitter search…leading you to blogs and sites where the true art of Haiku can be found at the hands of new and modern masters.  Hidden within these few lines are truth, wisdom, insight and enlightenment.  Our world is calling for a revolution, and this is no more evident than in the numbers of people who have turned back to the arts and the written word, in an effort to find like-minded people.  Within in words of today`s Haiku, our calling is evident, our future is bright, and there is ample room for more masters.  For many, the sense and sensibility at the core of the modern Haiku, the simplicity of what is, offers that pause so many in today`s frantic and oversold world are desperate for.  You do not have to be a lover of poetry to enjoy the new depths of existence Haiku reveals, nor do you have to be a writer of poetry to feel its impact.

Out of the Heian Period to Present Day


One thought on “Up Close~ A Look at Haiku

  1. woohoo…i am a tash fan, what can i say…smiles. when haiku is done really well i like it…not a fan of many of the modern haiku as it becomes a lot like bad punch lines…this is well writ tash…

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