Submitted by TinaL. Thomen

SLM 521: Telecommunications & The Internet

Fall 2005 ~ Updated 9/30/05

Web Dropin #2

 Haiku Poetry



Photo taken from


Introduction ~ What is Haiku Poetry?


Haiku is one of the most important and well-known forms of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is typically a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. (In Japanese, this 5, 7, 5 syllabic custom remains consistent, but modern English Haiku poets have sometimes varied syllable lengths,)   Today, we will concentrate on the traditional Japanese pattern, with the syllables arranged in the following manner:

[    5 syllables

[    7 syllables

[    5 syllables

Haiku poetry often focuses on images from nature and everyday life.  Haiku emphasizes the beautiful, the change of seasons, and the expressions of the self.  Through Haiku, writers use the present tense to describe common, everyday elements in a unique way. The Academy of American Poets explains the essence of Haiku: 

(The) philosophy of haiku has been preserved: the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment and illumination.  (From


Examples of Haiku Poems ~ Images from Daily Life

Photo taken from




prehistoric gift

splashing history currents

leaving flakes of rust

By Deborah P. Kolodji, from  At this site, science students wrote haiku poems to help remember the elements of the Periodic Table.




Moist golden sponge cake.
Creamy white filling of joy.
Boy, I love Twinkies!

By Todd Stadler, from




Information about Haiku’s Original Poet

~ Meet Master Basho~




Spring morning marvel
lovely nameless little hill
on a sea of mist



As this poem by Basho illustrates, Haiku appeals to the senses ~ sight, touch, sound, smell, taste, or sensations like motion. This poem takes the reader to the fluidity of a specific moment in spring rather than to a static picture of a general hillside scene. We can use our senses to feel the mist and see the contrasts of the colorful hilltop resting on a gray fog.  Basho himself shares the Haiku experience:


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.” (From




~ Haiku Activity ~






Haiku teaches us about using our senses to experience nature and to observe the simple images of daily life.  Go to the following website to journey back in time to Master Basho’s world.  Read the short piece entitled, “The  Gentlest and Greatest Friend of Moon and Winds by following the butterflies to this link. (You may click on any butterfly or the title of the piece.)  


After traveling back in time, answer the following questions in your journal:


[    Analyze how the title of this excerpt, The Gentlest and Greatest Friend of Moon and Winds, connects to Haiku poetry.  (Write 2-3 sentences in your journal.)


[    In this text, Basho is quoted as saying that "(r)eal poetry is to lead a beautiful life.  To live poetry is better than to write it."  Evaluate how this quote may guide your own reading or writing processes when approaching Haiku.  (Write 2-3 sentences in your journal.)


[    Using any image that you choose to observe, write a Haiku in your journal. 



"Modesty, gentleness, and simplicity!" it said.  "These are the truly beautiful things." (Basho)