A haiku is a short form of Japanese poetry characterized by three qualities: 

1.  There are three stanzas of 5, 7 and 5 syllables;

2.  In this highly abbreviated poem, there are two well-defined images (with a kireji or “cutting word” between them); and

3.  The subject is usually drawn from the natural world (often seasonal).

The most famous composer of haiku poetry was Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).   He was the grand poet of the Edo period and his poetry has achieved international renown.  His works frequently appear on Japanese monuments and at traditional Japanese sites.  Basho’s most famous (and probably the best known example of) haiku was “The Old Pond.”

Fu-ru-i-ke ya

Ka-wa zu to-bi-ko-mu

Mi-zu no 0-to

The translation?

Old pond

A frog leaps in


I tend to think that haiku can be a poignant teaching tool for students since it requires structure, thought, concentration and result.  Face it — if the three elements of haiku are present, how can the haiku be bad? 

Winter Squirrel by Renaissance Hombre

A squirrel sits still

His tail begins to move

And away he goes

Move over Mister Basho. . . . .


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