Tokyo Notebook

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05 2010

First Attempt to Make a Haiku in English

I pass by this hydrangea every day on my way to work.

立ち止まれば 誇らしげな 梅雨告花

Stop your steps
The flowers in the rainy season
open up proudly

by Kinakinw

Haiku (俳句) is the Japanese poetic form that is the shortest in the world. It’s a fixed verse consisting of 17 syllables in total, arranged in groups of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. (I didn’t keep to the rule of the syllables this time) Haiku typically contain a kigo (季語: seasonal reference) and a kireji (切れ字: cutting word). While the kigo helps to suggest nature in people's imaginations, a kireji is like a spoken punctuation that marks a pause or gives emphasis to one part of the poem.

I made the Japanese version first, and then I translated it into English. According to the Haiku society of America, a haiku is a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition. Most haiku in English consist of three unrhymed lines of seventeen or fewer syllables, with the middle line longest.

If you read excellent haikus, you can actually visualize the scene and give more than a passing thought to nature and human lives. Mine is more “a photo & haiku” than a genuine haiku because the photo helps to express what I want to describe.

Nature near-at-hand is surely telling the changing seasons.
We don’t have to go to special places to feel it.


Posted by Kinakinw | 23:04 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Cultural Issue (Japan)

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