Introduction of HAIKU(俳句)

■Introduction of HAIKU(俳句)■

AUDIO/VISUAL TUTORIAL of the basic knowledge of HAIKU(俳句) : 5-7-5 (without 7-7) letter/syllable verse with some word or phrase to suggest seasonal background

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■Introduction of HAIKU(俳句) : 5-7-5 (without 7-7) letter/syllable verse with some word or phrase to suggest seasonal background■

 HAIKU(俳句) is a 5-7-5 letter/syllable rhyme with some word or phrase to show what season (Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter) the poem was created in. Structurally, HAIKU(俳句) is a shorter version of TANKA(短歌); historically, HAIKU(俳句) was born as a spin-off out of RENGA(連歌), a 5-7-5-7-7 linked verse created in tandem by two different poets. RENGA(連歌) had a way of falling farcically flat in the closing 7-7 part, cheerfully ruining the hopefully sophisticated initial 5-7-5 part. By doing away with the latter 7-7 part, a 5-7-5 format HAIKU(俳句) eliminated the risk of starting out great and ending up flat; for good or bad, it simply runs through without swerve… there is no room for 5-7-5 HAIKU(俳句) to fall flat or awry like 5-7-5-7-7 TANKA(短歌)… and no room for dramatic twist in the latter part, either.



●A poor example of 5-7-5 that fails to be a HAIKU(俳句) and ends up in an incomplete RENGA(連歌)

Look at the following example to see what HAIKU(俳句) can fail to say in the absence of the closing 7-7 letters:



(in 5-7-5 Japanese syllables)

《Neko mo nede namameku haru no yoru no kaze》

ねこもねでなまめくはるのよるのかぜ

<猫も寝で艶めく春の夜の風>

『猫たちも寝ずにミャァミャー騒ぎまくる春の夜風は、どことなく官能的』

ねこ【猫】〔名〕<NOUN:a cat>

も【も】〔係助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(ADDITION):even, also>

ぬ【寝】〔自ナ下二〕(ね=未然形)<VERB:sleep, go to bed>

で【で】〔接助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(NEGATIVE CIRCUMSTANCE):without -ing>

…With cats staying awake [all night long amorously mewing and wooing on the street]

なまめく【艶めく】〔自カ四〕(なまめく=連体形)<VERB:feel seductive, somewhat sexy>

はる【春】〔名〕<NOUN:Spring>

の【の】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(POSSESSIVE):’s, of, belonging to>

よる【夜】〔名〕<NOUN:the night>

の【の】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(POSSESSIVE):’s, of, belonging to>

かぜ【風】〔名〕<NOUN:wind, breeze>

…Vernal breeze at night feels strangely enticing

(in rather explanatory 5-7-5 English words)

Cats meow on at night

Allured by amorously warm wind in Spring

Time is ripe for love



 The 5-7-5 above is an example of a poem that fails to be a HAIKU(俳句); it does depict a scene of a Spring night, but the scenery feels somewhat incomplete: the amorous atmosphere of the cat-mewing night must have influenced upon the poet’s emotion one way or another… and yet this 5-7-5 poem is strangely emotionless. Lack of emotion itself is not a bad thing in a HAIKU(俳句), for it is a type of poem that structurally refuses to express emotion in words, concentrating on depicting scenery alone, and requires the reader/hear to imagine emotion latent behind the scenes. But the 5-7-5 rhyme above fails as a HAIKU(俳句) in that it does not offer any emotional direction in which to lead readers in their imaginative complementation.



 Suppose the poem above was the first 5-7-5 part of a RENGA(連歌), what kind of a following pair of 7-7 would you add to complement it?… it might, for example, be something like this:



(in 7-7 Japanese syllables)

《Hitori nuru mi ni itodo tsumetashi》

ひとりぬるみにいとどつめたし

<独り寝る身にいとど冷たし>

<独り温みにいとど冷たし>

『恋人もいない寂しい一人寝をかこつ我が身には、その人恋しい春の夜風の温もりは、かえって冷たく感じるけれど』

ひとり【独り】〔副〕<ADVERB:alone, in solitude>

―掛詞(KAKE-KOTOBA):start―

(A)

ぬ【寝】〔自ナ下二〕(ぬる=連体形)<VERB:sleep, go to bed>

み【身】〔名〕<NOUN:status, condition, circumstance>

(B)

ぬるみ【温み】〔名〕<NOUN:lukewarmness, tepidness>

―掛詞(KAKE-KOTOBA):end―

に【に】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(DIRECTION):upon, for>

いとど【いとど】〔副〕<ADVERB:all the more>

つめたし【冷たし】〔形ク〕(つめたし=終止形)<VERB:feel cold, cruel>

…It feels all the more cold and cruel for someone who sleeps alone [without any lover beside]

(in 7-7 English words)

All the colder for the voluptuous feel

On a lonely one sleepless in bed



 …Or, how about a more amorous pair of 7-7 like this?:



(in 7-7 Japanese syllables)

《Akashi hate temu tori no seku made》

あかしはててむとりのせくまで

<明かし果ててむ鶏の塞くまで>

『さぁ、一緒に夜通し熱く過ごそうよ、「もう朝だよー」とニワトリの鳴き声の邪魔が入るまで』

あかす【明かす】〔他サ四〕(あかし=連用形)<VERB:stay up, go on doing something all night>

はつ【果つ】〔自タ下二〕(はて=連用形)<VERB:do something till the end, finish doing something>

つ【つ】〔助動サ下二型〕完了(て=連用形)<AUXILIARY VERB(PERFECT TENSE)>

む【む】〔助動マ四型〕推量(む=終止形)<AUXILIARY VERB(WILL):let’s>

…Let us stay up all night [making love with each other]

とり【鶏】〔名〕<NOUN:a cock, bird that cries in the morning>

の【の】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(SUBJECT)>

せく【塞く】〔他カ四〕(せく=連体形)<VERB:interrupt, interfere>

まで【まで】〔副助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(TIME SPAN):until>

…Until the morning bird starts shouting [and urges us to stop making love]

(in 7-7 sexually equivocal English words)

Shall we stay up all night too

Until the cock crows in the morning

―掛詞(KAKE-KOTOBA):start―

(A) the cock crows… an adult male chicken cries out in the morning

(B) the cock crows… my dick/Johnson/penis exalts loudly over the satisfactory conquest of the night

―掛詞(KAKE-KOTOBA):end―



 Well, what do you think? Whichever version of 7-7 you like or dislike, the fact remains that the first 5-7-5 rhyme does not preclude either story as PART-II of the scene, because it fails to offer any directional suggestion. In short, the 5-7-5 poem above is not exactly a HAIKU(俳句) that is complete in itself, but merely a part of RENGA(連歌) that is waiting for a following pair of 7-7 to complement and complete it. Although the actual world of HAIKU(俳句) is infested with such unfinished stories, the authentic world of HAIKU(俳句) that its originator MATSUO BASHOU(松尾芭蕉) aspired for was a complete sketch of a seasonal scenery, hopefully with emotional background lurking behind the scenes.



●A successful example of HAIKU(俳句)

 The following example, though lacking in emotional background, could be rightfully deemed as a HAIKU(俳句), for it does not require or admit of a following pair of 7-7 to complete it:



(in 5-7-5 Japanese syllables)

《Hanafubuki fuyu mo sakura mo chirashi keri》

はなふぶきふゆもさくらもちらしけり

<花吹雪冬も桜も散らしけり>

『春風が、冬も、桜も、一掃してしまったなぁ』

はなふぶき【花吹雪】〔名〕<NOUN:cherry flowers flying in the air like snow in Spring>

ふゆ【冬】〔名〕<NOUN:Winter>

も【も】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(JUXTAPOSITION):and>

さくら【桜】〔名〕<NOUN:cherry trees, cherry blossom>

も【も】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(JUXTAPOSITION):and>

ちらす【散らす】〔他サ四〕(ちらし=連用形)<VERB:scatter, dispel, let go>

けり【けり】〔助動ラ変型〕過去(けり=終止形)<AUXILIARY VERB(PAST)>

…Spring wind has dispelled Winter along with cherry flowers flying like snow

(in 7-7, not 5-7-5 English words)

Flowery storm raging on the Spring field

Winter and cherry blossom both swept away







●A 5-7-5 without any seasonal background is not a HAIKU(俳句) but a SENRYU(川柳)

 A 5-7-5 letter/syllable rhyme is not a HAIKU(俳句) unless it contains some word or phrase to suggest what season the poem is about: such 5-7-5 verse with no seasonal scenery in it is called SENRYU(川柳) instead:



(in 5-7-5 Japanese syllables)

《Nobeokuri hatete miru yo no itooshisa》

のべおくりはててみるよのいとほしさ

<野辺送り果てて見る世の愛ほしさ>

『人の葬儀に参列した帰りには、まだ自分が生きているこの世の中が、いつにもまして愛おしい』

のべおくり【野辺送り】〔名〕<NOUN:participation in a funeral procession>

はつ【果つ】〔自タ下二〕(はて=連用形)<VERB:come to an end, be finished>

て【て】〔接助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(RESULT):and, afterwards>

みる【見る】〔他マ上一〕(みる=連体形)<VERB:see, look at>

よ【世】〔名〕<NOUN:the world, life>

の【の】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(POSSESSIVE):’s, of, belonging to>

いとほしさ【愛ほしさ】〔名〕<NOUN:preciousness, dearness, loveliness>

…The loveliness of this world after participating in a funeral procession [is so… you know what I mean?]

(in 5-7, not 5-7-5 English words)

Coming back from someone’s funeral

Finds me more attached to this world



 In addition to the absence of any season in the poem, pay special attention to the emotional conclusion “いとほしさ(itooshisa = loveliness)”… such is not the way for HAIKU(俳句) to go: in HAIKU(俳句), emotion must not verbally show itself off. If you want to change the SENRYU(川柳) above into a HAIKU(俳句), a small seasonal addition in place of emotionally verbose “いとほしさ(itooshisa = loveliness)” will do, as in the following example:



(in 5-7-5 Japanese syllables)

《Nobeokuri hate te miru no no hanafubuki》

のべおくりはててみるののはなふぶき

<野辺送り果てて見る野の花吹雪>

『人の葬儀に参列した帰りの野原に見る桜の花吹雪(・・・あぁ、みんな最期はこうして散ってしまんだなぁ)』

のべおくり【野辺送り】〔名〕<NOUN:participation in a funeral procession>

はつ【果つ】〔自タ下二〕(はて=連用形)<VERB:come to an end, be finished>

て【て】〔接助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(RESULT):and, afterwards>

みる【見る】〔他マ上一〕(みる=連体形)<VERB:see, look at>

の【野】〔名〕<NOUN:the field>

の【の】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(PLACE):in, on>

はなふぶき【花吹雪】〔名〕<NOUN:cherry flowers flying in the air like snow in Spring>

…After participating in a funeral procession, coming across cherry flowers falling off the leaves to fly in the air like so much snow in the Spring wind [as if suggesting our mortal destiny]

(in rather explanatory 5-7-5 English words)

Coming back from someone’s funeral

I saw cherry flowers flying like snowstorm

Likewise we mortals all go



 The closing part “野の花吹雪(no no hanafubuki = cherry storm in the field)” instead of “世の愛ほしさ(yo no itooshisa = loveliness of this world)” is typical of HAIKU(俳句): it prefers depiction of scenery to direct expression of emotion, hoping to hide emotion behind the scenes for readers/hearers to imaginatively discover.



 In this modified HAIKU(俳句), the closing phrase “野の花吹雪(no no hanafubuki = cherry storm in the field)” is suggestive of all living things that used to flourish but will ultimately be blown in the wind to fade out into nothing. Such undescribed emotions are as nothing in the English-speaking world as it is everything in the world of HAIKU(俳句), hence the necessity of the last 5 words of “Likewise we mortals all go” in the English translation, while the addition of such plainly explanatory phrase would only render a Japanese TANKA(短歌) vapid, and a HAIKU(俳句) impossible (remember the 17-word limitations and seasonal hint requisites!)… see how different East is from West and West from East? Expressionless depiction of visual scenery alone cannot fail to end up in English as something brusque and possibly self-indulgent with no intention to reach out to others.



 If you should make an attempt at 5-7-5 English, I suggest you try making an emotional SENRYU(川柳) instead of a seasonal HAIKU(俳句): it may still sound strange in English, but not bluntly vapid perhaps. And the best way, of course, is to enjoy reading or making HAIKU(俳句) or TANKA(短歌) the way they are meant to be in Japanese language… East is east, West is west.