Haiku Definition and Meaning

Haiku Definition and Meaning

Haiku is a type of traditional Japanese poetry consisting of a stanza of 17 Moras (minor linguistic unity that the syllable) spread over three lines of five, seven and five berries each.

Haiku is the expression of a deep emotion, aroused from the astonishment of the human being before nature, stripped of sterile searches or abstractions. It addresses issues of daily life or the natural world in a simple, subtle and austere style. It usually contains a direct or indirect reference to the season of the year.

Haiku is characterized by the contrast of images, which are approached from different or unexpected perspectives and that arouse in the reader a feeling of astonishment and emotion, of melancholy and exultation, of aesthetic fascination and spiritual commotion.

As such, it is a type of poetry that expresses a spirituality in man’s relationship with nature, which many have related to Zen, but which is actually in tune with Shintoism. In fact, who popularized haiku in Japan in the seventeenth century was the monk Matsuo Bashō.

Haiku, as such, is born from the splitting of haikai, a type of poetic composition of which only the three initial verses of five, seven and five blackberries were preserved. In fact, the word haiku, proposed Masaoka Shiki to designate this type of poem, is the contraction of haïkaï-hokku.

Haikus examples

“This road / no one travels it, / except twilight.” Bashō

“The winter wind blows / the eyes of the cats / blink.” Bashō

“I cut a branch / and cleared better / through the window.” Shiki

“Lying down / I watch the clouds go by / Summer room.” Yaha

Haiku and calligram

The haiku is a traditional style of Japanese poetry. Its treatment of simple subjects and its brevity are characterized. It consists of 17 syllables arranged in three verses of five, seven and five blackberries each.

The calligram, on the other hand, is a poetic composition that is characterized by having a typographic disposition that pretends to represent the content of the poem forming a visual image with the words. It is a slope of the so-called visual poetry. Its largest representative was Guillaume Apollinaire.