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What are the characteristics of a haiku?

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Quick Answer

A haiku is an unrhymed poem of three lines and 17 syllables, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third. A haiku emphasizes imagery, usually of landscapes, seasons and the time of day.

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What are the characteristics of a haiku?
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Full Answer

In original Japanese poetry, a haiku juxtaposed two images with the intention of harmonizing them. Kireji, or "cutting words," linked the disparate images. The first great haiku master was Basho. During the Tokugawa period in the 17th century, he elevated the haiku to a level of high art. Other haiku masters included Buson in the 18th century and Masaoka Shiki in the 19th century. Over the centuries, haiku became the dominant form of Japanese poetry. By the end of the 20th century, over a million Japanese studied haiku under teachers.

Since the early part of the 19th century, some European poets have tried to imitate the haiku. The Indian Nobel prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote haiku in Bengali and also translated some from the original Japanese. The haiku form became popular in the United States through beat-era writers such as Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder. In modern times, it is practiced by poets worldwide in Japan, many European countries, India, Russia and the United States.

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Related Questions

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    What are some ideas for writing a poem for your grandson?

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    Starting off the poem with the line "this is a poem for you" and adding the grandson's name after it, writing about the grandson's distinct characteristics, repeating the first line and coming up with another list of positive attributes are great ideas for writing a poem for a grandson. The last two parts of the poem may include the author's wishes for his grandson.

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    What are the main types of poetry?

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    Some common types of poetry are the haiku, the sonnet and the free verse poem. While the haiku and the sonnet conform to their own established structures, there are few rules dictating the style of free verse poetry.

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    What are the rules for making a haiku?

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    A haiku contains three lines. There are five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line and five syllables in the third line. Rhyming is not necessary. Rules regarding word repetition, punctuation and capitalization are left to the writer's discretion.

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    What is a good sports haiku?

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    The Haiku Poems and Poets site provides many haiku with sports themes. A haiku about kids who love to play football even though it's raining is "The kids love football/ but it's raining hard today/ muddy kids don't care."

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