After the rain

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,

rose-brushed branches

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


19 thoughts on “After the rain

  1. Three very immediate haiku Janice with wonderful imagery. The thing about haiku is there are no rules except 3 lines once you work in English. As I have mentioned before I aim at 3/5/3 as the brevity usually keeps the reader with my imagery. The more words the messier it can get. many poets here write 3 line, 4 or 5 words sometimes 6 syllables . Keep experimenting.

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  2. I don’t understand why call it haiku if it does not have the 5-7-5 syllables. That is the definition of haiku. I am hesitant to call my “haiku” haiku because it does not fit the mood of a nature theme. I always think there are going to be haiku lovers who hate what I do to haiku. And I cannot blame them. After all that’s what haiku is. But I do it anyway. That’s the way I feel about haiku with various syllable counts. I like to have the pattern because it makes me rethink how to say something, or what other word I can use to fit the pattern. However, I’ll not fuss about your syllable count if you let me get away with humor! 😀 And I do like your haiku that depicts nature so very well.

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    1. Hi Oneta. As with many things, there are different schools of thought and visions of what haiku is. Haiku has a long history and I am sure that even in the beginning years in Japan there were variations in approach. The Jane Reichhold article that I link to suggests that if you do depart from a strict pattern that you would still be aiming for brevity and a middle line longer than the first and last. That’s the gist I take away anyway. I like number patterns too. I started with 5-7-5 and often find my words coming out that way. Happy writing 🙂


  3. Three stunning haiku as Kim says, they stand well on their own…the last one is my favourite and if the last word I imagined the word “limbs” rather than “branches”…ah, what a sensual tone it is.

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