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Seashore Haiku - Poetry and Nature Combined

by Edward Weiss

Haiku is a centuries old Japanese form of poetry that uses just a few words to capture the essence of its subject. Woods, forests, and oceans have been topics traditionally used by haiku poets and for good reason - they are all inspiring natural phenomena.

Seashore haiku combine both the love of the ocean and haiku's inherent ability to portray nature subjects. For example, take a look at this seashore haiku by the author:

Early fall morning --
Only footprints
On the beach

Notice how the mood or ambiance of this poem is set in the first line. Here we know the time of year it is. We also know the time of day. Now, from this macro viewpoint comes something micro - something in particular…the description of footprints on the beach. Together, this haiku poem creates something called an absolute metaphor. We get a glimpse or feeling for the time of year, then we hone in on something very specific. Read as a complete poem, the mind must make a leap from "fall morning" to "footprints on the beach."

Haiku accomplishes this brilliantly! And in only a few words. A remarkable match between economy and meaning; just like nature itself!

Here's another seashore haiku:

Hot June day --
An otter
Slips into the sea

The thing about haiku is that if it's done right, it's supposed to put you in a trance state. That is, the "aha" moment or "ah" moment as I like to call it comes from the juxtaposition between line 1 and lines 2 and 3. This is not a koan (a question with no real answer) but a series of images that create a snapshot of a feeling or mood for the reader.

These brief poems are a perfect match for describing a nature scene.

Edward Weiss is a poet, author, and publisher of Wisteria Press. He has been helping students learn how to write haiku for many years and has just released his first book "Seashore Haiku!" Sign up for free daily haiku and get beautiful haiku poems in your inbox each morning! Visit for haiku books, lessons, articles, and more!

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