Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winter Haiku

One of my favorite forms of poetry is haiku. I couldn’t exactly say why. Perhaps it’s because it traditionally deals with nature. It could also be that haiku is outwardly simple: three lines, seventeen syllables.

Although I’m not particularly good at it, I enjoy the challenge of writing haiku. Seventeen syllables isn’t much to work with, particularly when trying to convey an image. Then, toss in the restriction of the first line using only five syllables, the second line seven and the third line another five, it’s easy to see why the mental gyrations begin. It makes for a fantastic writing exercise, testing your vocabulary and creativity. 

I’m not going to step into that tiger pit of arguments against such restrictions; many don’t follow them. (And too, there are good arguments that the written Western languages, particularly English, can’t actually produce haiku true to the original Japanese form.) For myself, however, I like the 5-7-5 form and stick to it.

Below are six haiku that have come about over the years. I’ve paired them with some pictures that brought the haiku to mind. I hope you enjoy both.

Struggling spruce seedling

spruce seedling’s greatness
in check by reality
and the drifting snow

Moon setting at dawn (9:30 am) at the mouth of the Kenai

sun is chasing moon
like a dog chasing its tail
in the early dawn

Eagles flock to the dump in winter

winter’s casteism
eagles picking at garbage
reduced in stature

Still losing over 4 minutes of daylight each day

sun has grown weary
each day it rises later
earlier to bed

This Boreal Chickadee really wants to eat

chickadee scolding
must be fat for winter warmth
fill the feeder now

Ornamental grass bent under the weight of frost

crystalline flowers
branches of brittle blossoms
the ice fog garden 

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