After the rain
anointed with perfection
grass blades glisten
Morning once more,
hidden behind grey clouds
soft sunlight glows
High on hilltops,
haze of swelling buds,
I wrote these three haiku yesterday morning. Up until now I have adhered to syllable patterns 5-7-5 and 3-5-3. Intrigued by an awareness that not all haiku writers confine themselves to these counts, I have been reluctant to branch out without a better understanding. Finally an explanation has been provided in Carpe Diem Universal Jane #15 Birdcage which reproduces an essay by Jane Reichhold called: ‘Building an Excellent Birdcage’. Her article provides an introduction to writing haiku in English. The following words inspired me to experiment with breaking out of exact syllable patterns:
Many people think haiku are not real haiku unless they have 17 syllables – but this does not have to be. In Japan if you’re counting the sound units there should be 17, but English syllables and Japanese sound units are different. The sound units are much shorter, and so if you would write a 17-syllable haiku it would come out about one-third too long. For instance, if you say “Tokyo” it has 3 syllables, but in Japanese it has 4 sound units.
When the Japanese tried to translate English haiku into Japanese they ended up with big, clunky poems and way too many words. So we’ve taken the idea of using short-long-short lines and this conforms to the haiku form, but it allows us a little more freedom in how many words we use.
∼from ‘Building an Excellent Birdcage’ by Jane Reichhold