A blog devoted mainly to haiku and senryu and to thoughts about, and inspired by, haiku and senryu.

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Location: New York, New York

Haiku is to poetry as espresso is to coffee.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Toward Definitions: 8th Approximation

I introduced the "cutting word" (kireji) in the 6th approximation. There is no punctuation in Japanese haiku, but the cutting word, an essentially meaningless word that indicates some kind of grammatical break, functions very like punctuation.The cutting word is usually found at the end of the first or second segment of the haiku—at the end, that is, of the first or second line in the most familiar format in English.
The formal effect of the cutting word and of whatever replaces it in English-language haiku is to divide the haiku into two main parts, unequal in length—two to one—but roughly equal in weight. Jane Reichhold in Writing and Enjoying Haiku (Kodansha International 2002) usefully suggests the term "phrase" for the longer part and "fragment" for the shorter. (Her insights can also be found at ahapoetry.com.) In many haiku, then, we can discern a two-part structure in a three-line format. The "meaning" of the haiku often arises out of the relationship between the two parts. This structure can be found even in haiku that contain no punctuation.
Every post on this blog from March 26 through March 29 features a haiku in which the break occurs at the end of the first line; in Reichhold's terminology, line one is the fragment, lines two and three are the phrase. And, at least in my reading (not binding on you), the "meaning" of these haiku arises out of the relationship between the fragment and the phrase, which are of roughly equal weight though of unequal length. Among these haiku, only the one posted as "sounds" contains punctuation: my preferred all-purpose em dash. My principle regarding punctuation in haiku is the same as Mark Twain's regarding the adjective in anything: When in doubt, cut it out.
The post "ant" (March 30) features a haiku in which the fragment is line three, with lines one and two constituting the phrase; this one includes an em dash in the cutting word position. I've also re-posted below two of my winter haiku in which the fragment is the last line; no punctuation in these.
Does what we've said cover all haiku? Well, no. More on that in later approximations.
By the way, if you ask me to tell you the "meaning" of these haiku or of any of the others I've written, I can usually do no better than to repeat the haiku itself
more green today
sun after snow
a clump of snow
explodes on the iron step
sudden wind


Blogger iamnasra said...

ever glowing
with appearing sun
the sky after rain

Here one more after reading your haiku ...Thank you you had inspired me ...

I hope what i wrote is right

12:41 AM  
Blogger indonesianegriku said...

thank's for sharing info,..!
Kerja Keras Adalah Energi Kita

7:53 AM  

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