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Senryu Definition

A short Japanese style poem, similar to haiku in structure, however, senryû tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryû are often cynical or darkly humorous and satiric while haiku are serious.


A Senryu is a type of poem that paints a mental image with a short amount of words and a set amount of syllables per line. The senryu poem originates from Japan and is very similar to a Haiku poem. Both haikus and senryus have rules regarding how many syllables the author can use and how many syllables must be used on each of the three lines.

Typically, both haikus and senryus are made up of seventeen syllables written onto three lines. The first line of the poem must contain five syllables, the second line has seven syllables and the third line has five syllables. Usually, haikus and senryus do not rhyme and they are used to tell a story or get a point across in a simple, brief way.

Despite their many similarities, there are some major differences between a haiku and a senryu. Mostly, haikus are about nature and human reactions to nature.

Senryus usually have a different tone. A senryu poem is usually about human nature. Senryus have to do with subjects such as politics and are much of the time funny and satirical in nature. A typical senryu is designed to where the setting is described in the first line and the subject and action are placed on the last two lines. 

Senryu Poem Example

The robber,
if I catch,
my own son

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