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Prompt: Summer Haiku

Oiran in Summer Kimono – Attributed to Hosoda Eishi (Japan, 1756-1829) – via Wikimedia

While we are on vacation this month, we are offering a different prompt and submission option. Here we are going to give you a brief summer haiku prompt and ask that if you write a poem to the prompt that you post it below as a comment. All comments on this blog require approval, so there will still be some gentle screening of submissions, but let’s assume that everyone can follow the simple rules, will post and will be approved.

We have written here in the past about haiku more than a dozen times, and had specific posts and prompts about spring, autumn and winter haiku. Somehow, summer was overlooked. This month we remedy that.

The haiku form doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It seems so simple that it is often used with children as a first formal poetry assignment. But good haiku is not that easy to write.

People notice that many famous haiku poems don’t seem to follow the rules we usually hear for haiku verse: three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. That is both because the classic Chinese and Japanese poets of haiku were not working with syllables and because in translation to English the syllabication is usually ignored.

We will ask you to follow that 5-7-5 in your poems, but perhaps more importantly are some of the other “rules” for haiku.

Most classic haiku follow the culture and influence of Buddhism in the way that the poems emphasize a single moment.

Most haiku focus on something in nature.

In the traditional form, they contain either a direct or indirect reference to a season that turns the reader’s attention to the passage of time. They often do this by using a seasonal word rather than naming the season. That seasonal word is called kigo (KEY-GO). In the examples below, the cricket and firefly suggest summer.

Here are a few examples:

The cool breeze.
With all his strength
The cricket.
      ~  ISSA


This warm river
I walk across it
holding my sandals
      ~  BUSON


This hot summer night.
The dream and real
are same things.
     ~  TAKAHAMA KYOSHI


Even a woodpecker
wouldn’t crack the tea hut.
in the summer grove.

Their own fires
are on the trees
fireflies around the house with flowers.
     ~  BASHO

Post your own summer haiku as a comment to this post.

Firefly by  Shoen Uemura – via Wikimedia