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Syllable Bore?

Haiku bkJane Reichold, author of Writing and Enjoying Haiku (A Hands-on Guide), writes that the 5,7,5 rule of haiku is not a necessary one to stick to. It seems that it may be better to use fewer syllables to keep haiku within the traditional style intended. From what I can gather the most important thing seems to be to capture a moment in nature (in the present) with brevity and simplicity and with a feel of 1 natural break. Japanese haiku use 5,7,5 syllables because they have many more syllables for each word. If we literally translate a Japanese haiku into English we are not left with 17 syllables, we are left with about 10-15. (There are other significant differences between Japanese and English haiku – It’s worth reading about them)

So with that information freshly implanted in my brain I went outside to bring the washing in before it got dark.

I saw . . .

buddleia stems
side-lit by evening sun
straight golden rods

I could work on that specifically to make it 5,7,5 syllables by changing ‘stems’ to ‘branches’, adding ‘the’ to the second line and adding ‘like’ to the last line…but would it be any better?

buddleia branches
side-lit by the evening sun
like straight golden rods

No. I think it would be worse.

This might be better, but it’s not to do with adding syllables:

upright golden rods
buddleia stems side-lit
by evening sun

(I read evening as ‘eve-ning’- not ‘even-ing’)

And how about this:

brittle brown tangles
of twisted sweet-peas drop
with seeds still forming

Do I need to bother to find the extra syllable?

Or this?:

soft evening glow
the colour of warmth
as it leaves us

Now I’m cutting through syllables like a ruthless samuri!

Pass the saki . . .

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Shannon #

    You know, in English it seems less is more. I liked them all and they have more of a punch (althouh ‘punch’ is probably not the term the Japanese are aiming for. But you know what I mean?



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