A Haiku is a form of poetry from Japan with seventeen total syllables and three lines. The first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the third line has five syllables. Haikus generally have something to do with nature.

What is a Haiku?

Haikus can rhyme, but usually they do not, as the flow of the syllables is the main element of this type of poem. Haikus are considered to be simplistic, often intense, and direct; senses, colorful images, brief descriptions, and feelings are commonly included.

The word haiku originated from the term hokku, which means “first verse”, and was traditionally the opening phrase of an oral poem called renga in the thirteenth century. A renga poem was generally one hundred stanzas long, and also composed of a certain amount of syllables. In the sixteenth century, poet Matsuo Basho broke away from the long version of renga, mastering the three line, 17 syllable haikus that we know of today; because haikus originated from a much longer form of poetry, they often sound as if they are incomplete. Over time, the well known syllabic pattern has been broken and evolved, but the philosophy behind the haiku has remained the same; the use of senses and colorful images, short but powerful, and focused on nature. Some other famous haiku poets include Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and Masaoka Shiki.

Haiku poems are often studied within poetry units in the classroom, and are favorites among students, as they are quick and follow a certain rule, making them easier to write. Haikus can be used with children of all ages, written in groups or independently, and are entertaining to read aloud and listen to.

Examples of Haikus

Icicles hanging
Snow blanketing the cold ground
Cozy by the fire
Sweet smell of flowers
Birds flying high in the sky
New life is blooming
Days spent at the beach
Nights spent catching fireflies
Summertime is joy
Autumn leaves changing
Halloween is coming soon
Crisp cool air is here

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