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Haiku
“He who creates three to five haiku during a lifetime is a haiku poet. He who attains to ten is a master.”

Basho

A haiku is a traditional Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, arranged in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Japanese poetry is unrhymed, but English versions sometimes rhyme the first and third lines. The subject matter, often connected with the seasons, is usually described objectively and sharply.

The form emerged during the 16th century and was developed by the poet Basho (1644-1694) into a refined medium of Buddhist and Taoist symbolism. The poet concentrates on the object for its own sake, but by fully experiencing the object he achieves (in Zen thinking) an “illumination” or a “realising of reality”, an awareness of the inner spirit of the object he views.

Contributed by Gifford, Katya
9 March 2002

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