Basho and the Art of Haiku

Haiku, with its gentle guidelines and rules, is much more than counting syllables! Matsuo Bashō (1644 – 1694), the father of traditional haiku and one of the most revered poets in Japan, is credited for refining the haiku from a stylized form of 17 syllables to a poetic framework of simplicity and depth of meaning.

Haiku Guidelines:

  • Traditional: Three lines with syllable counts of 5-7-5
  • Free-form: Three lines, often with a short-long-short format, but no strict syllable count
  • Punctuation and capitalization are up to the poet
  • Lines usually do not rhyme
  • Often contains a seasonal reference
  • Juxtaposition of unrelated ideas, separated by an emotional “gap”
  • Focus on a brief moment in time
  • Present tense
  • Colorful imagery
  • Sense of sudden leap, or illumination

“Your poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have become one–when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see something like a hidden glimmering there. However well phrased your poetry may be, if your feeling is not natural – if the object and yourself are separate – then your poetry is not true poetry but merely your subjective counterfeit.”
― Bashō

Basho's most famous haiku: "Furuike ya, kawazu tobikomu, mizu no oto." Both the painting and the poem are in Basho's own hand.

There have been many translations of “Old Pond”. Notice that the number of syllables in English may not agree with the count in the original Japanese. Enjoy these various translations!

An old silent pond,
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

Into the ancient pond
A frog jumps
Water’s sound!

Pond, there, still and old!
A frog has jumped from the shore.
The splash can be heard.

Breaking the silence
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water —
A deep resonance.

Frogs in a Pond by Seitei. Basho says: Old pond,/ A frog jumps in:/ Water's sound

Modern poets often refer to Basho. In this tongue-in-cheek haiku, contemporary poet Juma uses ideas from Basho to ask her own question.

Michael Dylan Welch, Adjunct Poetry Professor for the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts [states] “Most Western literary haiku poets have rejected the 5-7-5- syllable pattern. …The poem gains its energy by the intuitive or emotional leap that occurs in the space between the poem’s two parts, in the gap of what’s deliberately left out. …The art of haiku lies in creating exactly that gap, in leaving something out, and in dwelling in the cut that divides the haiku into its two energizing parts.”

“When composing a verse let there not be a hair’s breath separating your mind from what you write; composition of a poem must be done in an instant, like a woodcutter felling a huge tree or a swordsman leaping at a dangerous enemy.”
Bashō

0 0 votes
Post Rating
Comments without a personalized avatar will not be published.
1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Like the Haiku, we should also dwell between the self and no self to seek that which is not part, but is part.

Become a PatronHelp support our family-friendly mission

Most Voted Comments

Avatar
8

Bait

It takes a real talent to tell a story in so few words. What was…


Avatar
6

Endure and Sing

Inspirational piece. Am glad you picked the rat to be the protagonist in your story,…


Avatar
6

Endure and Sing

Such a sweet tale - and with a good moral to the story. I thought…


Avatar
5

Endure and Sing

Wow! This is a good story! Really good to read to little kids, the moral…


Avatar
4

Endure and Sing

Hi Katy, it really does add an extra dimension to hear your story read aloud…


Avatar
4

Endure and Sing

In my neighboring country Denmark, we have the classical storyteller Hans-Christian Andersen. Your sweet story…


Avatar
4

Endure and Sing

A really nice one with a wonderful story line. I can see why this was…


Avatar
4

Endure and Sing

A beautiful story! I was reminded of seeing Paul Potts and Susan Boyle on Britain's…


Avatar
4

Endure and Sing

Your story inspired me to keep going no matter how discouraging it gets. At times…


Avatar
4

Endure and Sing

Thank you so much for the feedback! I pray that the young readers will be…


Avatar
4

Endure and Sing

Thank you for taking the time to comment and convey your thoughts on the story.…


Avatar
4

Endure and Sing

Hi Katy, don't we all feel like the rat in your story at times! We…


Avatar
4

Vows

I must admit it was the picture of the church, with its grave yard, under…


Avatar
3

Between Belonging and Dying

A very powerful story, Daniel. Your writing makes it easy to feel the reality of…


Avatar
3

Between Belonging and Dying

Oh my gosh, Daniel. Your story really defines the word superb. You make me experience…


Avatar
3

Between Belonging and Dying

A horrendous situation, more so because so many people find themselves going through it. A…


Avatar
3

Between Belonging and Dying

What an extremely powerful story Daniel, really well written and with an ending that had…


Avatar
3

Between Belonging and Dying

Daniel, this story is one of the best flash fiction stories I've ever read. You…


Avatar
3

In Memoriam

It's terrible to lose someone you love and accept that he is not a part…


Avatar
3

The Problem with Women

I think Carrie has said it all. We rest our collective case.  ? 


Recent Comments



www.Voice.club

Upcoming Site
Maintenance
Scheduled for Today @ 21:15 ET

USA Timezone – Eastern Time – (GMT-5)

Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds


Voice-Team will perform upgrades and add new features!

During our scheduled maintenance
Voice.club will be inaccessible

1
0
Selected Authors may submit comments (5 Credits)x
()
x
Scroll to Top

Sharing a Post

Why do my friends need to SignIn to read the post I shared?

Actually, this is a voting security feature. During public voting, only club members can read posts submitted for that contest. Since anyone reading the story is able to vote (click the Like button), we reserve these capabilities to members who SignIn. Before we implemented this security feature, people were voting multiple times and making the public voting process unfair and out of balance. To fix this, our staff finally decided to allow only members who SignIn to read the stories. Membership is free and easy, and ensures our club is safe, secure, and family-friendly!