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Haiku's and Cinquain's
Transcript of Haiku's and Cinquain's
Haiku Poems : History
This is master Basho, the great Japanese poet who invented the haiku as we know it: a tiny poem filled with a love of nature. He spent his life close to nature. After a year in 1683 during which his hut burned down and his mother died, he took to the road. From the age of forty (in 1684) he travelled from place to place, like a tramp or wandering monk, walking through the countryside, living by teaching poetry in each town or village where he stopped. His attitude to nature was humble, selfless, and deeply respectful. He said, "Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. In doing so, you must leave your preoccupation with yourself. Otherwise you impose yourself on the object and do not learn. 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." One of Basho's fans, a poetry student, came to him and said, "I've got a great idea for a poem! It goes: 'Pull the wings off a dragonfly, and look - you get a red pepperpod!'" Basho said, "No. That is not in the spirit of haiku. You should write: 'Add wings to a pepperpod, and look - you get a red dragonfly!'" Cruelty, violence and sensationalism have no place in haiku poetry. The natural processes of suffering and death do, but the attitude to creatures that suffer is compassionate. Basho had hundreds of keen students all over the country and some of them built him a little hut. In the front garden they planted a banana tree, which in Japanese is called a basho, and that is how he got his name. He is the poet of the banana-tree hut. Sitting in his little hut he wrote this poem:
Basho went to visit the site of a famous battle, high on the moors, and found the place. There was nothing there, of course, except the hillside and tall moorland grasses, singed brown by the sun. He wrote this poem, which you can read first in Japanese, then in exact English word-equivalent, then in English poetic translations:
natsu-gusa ya / tsuwamono-domo-ga / yume no ato summer grasses (:!) / strong ones’ / dreams’ site All that remains of Those brave warriors’ dreamings – These summer grasses. Summer grasses, All that remains Of soldiers’ dreams (trans. Stryk)
Count the syllables in the Japanese. It is in three sections – how many syllables are there in each? (A syllable is the smallest complete unit of sound in a word. To-day has two; to-mo-rrow has three; yes-ter-day has three; now has one).
Japanese haiku have seventeen syllables in three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Some English translators stick to this same syllable pattern in English (as in our first example above), and this is called in English strict-form haiku. Many translators, however, feel free to use any short verse, usually shorter than seventeen syllables, and this is called free-form haiku.
Haiku poems do not rhyme.
The petals tremble
on the yellow mountain rose
– roar of the rapids (basho)
My empty face,
betrayed by lightning (Issa)
Deep into autumn and this caterpillar still not a butterfly (Basho)
My old home – wherever I touch, thorns (Issa)
Fields and mountains all taken by snow – nothing remains (Joso)
Embers die the chair where the friend sat fills with moonlight (Cicely Hill)
The big willow waved washing away the breeze leaving fresh branches (Jason,
Trees waving in the wind rain thunders down trees loosen their roots (Emma,
Everything in haiku is in the present. You might get reference to a memory or a dream, but the poem is always firmly based in an immediate experience and written in the present tense. The poems do not cover a wide time-span. They happen in an instant, which is now. You must not try and write one which tells us about planting the bulbs, and then seeing the hyacinths weeks later!
Time To Write Haiku Poetry
Write about some perception that has stuck in your memory as a vivid picture or a significant moment associated with a particular place.
Don’t write about an idea or a thought. Don’t use any abstract nouns. Keep it simple and concrete. Stick to accurate observations. You may use seventeen syllables exactly, or, as in many of the examples quoted in this lesson, fewer than seventeen syllables. Have fun!
Haiku Poetry Inspiration
What is a cinquain?
At the most basic level a cinquain is a five line poem or stanza.
The poem has one topic and the details describe the the topic's actions and feelings.
Here are a few variations.
Line 1 - one word for the topic
Line 2 - 2 words to describes your topic
Line 3 - 3 words that describes the actions relating to your topic
Line 4 - 4 words that describes the feelings relating to your topic
Line 5 - one word that is another name for your topic
Line 1: Two Syllables
Line 2: Four Syllables
Line 3: Six Syllables
Line 4: Eight Syllables
Line 5: Two Syllables
However, as with haiku, there are many suggestions for writing a good cinquain. Most poets feel that it is better to stick with concrete objects than with abstract ideas (“My Dog” rather than “Happiness”). It is also true that mixing the emphasis of the syllables (or words) will create a stronger effect than writing a string of words with similar lengths and emphasis. Other poetic devices such as assonance and alliteration can be used to help make your cinquain poem memorable. Organizing the ideas in your cinquain to follow the order below is another suggestion:
Description of Title
Some action about the Title
Feeling about the Title
Synonym for title
Crunching, Chewing, Eating
My Favourite Snack
Reaching, Bending, Fluttering
Leaves and Twigs in the wind
Line 1: A Noun
Line 2: Two Adjectives
Line 3: Three -ing Words
Line 4: A phrase
Line 5: Another word for the Noun
Eating, Giggling, Licking
Cone with three scoops