Wednesday, February 15, 2012

For Real Toads: Grace's haiku challenge

Grace has told me more than I ever wanted to know about haiku, but I'm glad she did. Today's challenge for the members and for those who care to make a submission to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, is to write haiku using the key ingredients: a seasonal reference (kigo) and a cutting word or turning point (kireji).

Wikipedia photo
© Photo by Kay Davies, our yard, 2011

haru meku is
the lilting japanese phrase
for the signs of spring—
the word sakura
meaning blossoms of cherry
is a sign of spring—
song of kawazu
is the chirping of the frogs—
a sure sign of spring

Then Grace blew me out of the water by saying haiku doesn't always mean 17 syllables (5, 7, 5) in each 3-line verse. It doesn't?
No, apparently the number 17 came from the 17 on or sound units in the original Japanese haiku,
but these 17 on ふるいけやかわずとびこむみずのおと 
or sound units, equal only 12 English syllables. However, here is the translation:
"old pond...
a frog leaps in
water's sound"
So, the resulting haiku in English is 2, 4, 3, which doesn't add up to either 17 or 12, but only 9, so I am confused. Not for long, though. I did three 17-syllable haiku with a common thread, and now I'll try some 9- and 12-syllable verses.
Wikipedia photo
japanese blossoms,
are sweet
the japanese spring,
is warm
the japanese heart
is pleased

melting snow
might mean spring is coming—

growing shoots
are frozen in the night—
not spring yet
sunshine days
all over Canada—
spring at last

© Photo by Richard Schear, our yard, 2010


Grace O'Malley said...

This is why I love the teikei format so much--you can do nearly anything with it, within its snippy ruleset.

Your use of traditional kigo in the first three is glorious. There are no extraneous syllables. I see that you have placed the kireji in the last phrase for the first two and returned it to the middle point for the third. I think this is charming.

The Higginson translation of Old Pond is a weird one, and in fact, Basho himself didn't always adhere to a strict syllable count. I chose this example for the clear 17 on, definitely not for the translation style. :)

Before this comment goes on forever, I just want to say brava! You are the first person to attempt the "English translation" 12-syllable mini-challenge.

Well done, and thorough.

Mary said...

Beautiful writing, Kay. I also admire you trying the 12 syllables. (LOL, hard enough for me to pare down to 17!)

Dimple said...

I do, on occasion, write a poem. But never so many at one time! I had no idea haiku was such a free style!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Restricting the number of syllables generally makes my brain glaze over before I even start and look at you - so many beautiful haiku. Well done, kiddo! I am so tired I likely wont manage much tonight.

Other Mary said...

I'm not sure why it's so hard for me to get my brain around this. Well done you! Beautiful!

Marian said...

these are beautiful, the entire post is warming and wonderful! thank you.

Ruth said...

great effort, Kay - well done and I love the pink blossoms pic - like a haiku without words

Susie Clevenger said...

Beautiful...they seem to just be the lovely touch of spring I need

Gattina said...

I am too much a chatter box that I could squeeze a poeme in a few lines ;) ! Spring is coming ? you lucky girl, after the cold wave we now have rain and very windy weather !

Bodhirose said...

These are beautiful...your heart was really in the process. And another bunch of haiku on favorite season! Lovely photos too..

Kerry O'Connor said...

I can tell that you put a lot of thought into each 3-lined gem, and that you are longing for Spring, while I am stuck in a never-ending heatwave, longing for Autumn..definitely time for the Earth to tilt the other way.

Leslie said...

once again, i am stymied by all the math ;)

but your spring haikus are lovely, as are the flowers.

Fireblossom said...

I hope spring isn't too far away for us in the frozen north, Kay, whether we are American or Canadian! :-)

Herotomost said...

Your words, every one, delicately placed and wholly accepted as a sign of spring. great stuff.