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What is an example of a haiku?

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Quick Answer

The following haiku is by the famous Japanese haiku master Matsuo Basho, who lived from 1644 to 1694: "Temple bells die out. / The fragrant blossoms remain. / A perfect evening!" Haiku is a Japanese poetry style with three lines. The most widely accepted style of haiku in the English-speaking world is called the 575 form. In this type of haiku, the first line must have five syllables, the second line seven syllables, and the last line five syllables.

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Full Answer

Haikus are untitled, and nature is often a foremost theme. Usually a word or phrase indicates the season. Examples include "snow," "cherry blossoms," "harvest moon" and "autumn dusk." The haiku typically has a reflective tone, leaving the reader to ponder.

The following are examples of modern haiku, both in the 575 pattern. Michael R. Collings wrote: "Freeway overpass–– / blossoms in graffiti / on fog-wrapped June mornings." From poet Dave McCroskey comes "The morning paper–– / harbinger of good and ill / I step over it." Chris Spruck wrote the poem: "Faceless, just numbered. / Lone pixel in the bitmap–– / I, anonymous."

Not all haiku follow the syllable-counting style, although publications such as Haiku Journal insist on 575. Various styles are acceptable in Japan, and Japanese-English translators may use their own discretion when it comes to syllable count. The following example is another from Matsuo Basho: "The first snow! / Enough to bend the leaves / of the jonquil low."

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