Haiku Definition | What is Haiku? - PoetrySoup
[n] an epigrammatic Japanese verse form of three short lines
A Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five moras (a unit of sound that determines syllable weight in some languages) respectively, usually about some form of nature. Although haiku are often stated to have 17 syllables, this is inaccurate as syllables and moras are not the same. Haiku typically contain a kigo (seasonal reference), and a kireji (cutting word). In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line and tend to take aspects of the natural world as their subject matter, while haiku in English often appear in three lines to parallel the three phrases of Japanese haiku and may deal with any subject matter.
An example of classic hokku by Bashô:
- an old pond—
- the sound of a frog jumping
- into water
Another Bashô classic:
- the first cold shower;
- even the monkey seems to want
- a little coat of straw.
poem, verse form