21 Examples Of Haiku In Literature

Definition of Haiku

A haiku is a Japanese traditional type of poetry that is composed of three lines. In twelve-syllable haiku, the syllables are usually arranged in a 5-7-5 syllable structure. This very brief form of poetry focuses on the nature, a moment and in the process of these components communicating each other.

The Haiku involves very little words or description, however it strikes deep within the emotions. Haikus are usually the ones that have a “kigo” (seasonal reference) and a “kireji” (cutting word), but in the English adaptations the latter is either less emphasized or manifested as a pause or punctuation.

Importance of Haiku

Haiku is an esteem type of traditional Japanese poetry that has taken up a wider recognition and respect in non-Japanese speaking societies.

This is a concise kind of poetry. It is a way of representing a deep philosophical understanding of the world. The importance of haiku can be appreciated across several dimensions:

I. Conciseness and Precision

Haiku stresses the role of the exact words for the creation of the picture. Poet must not only think and try to express his/ her thoughts and observations, but also keep in mind that they have only seventeen syllables to work with and they must stick to this during the writing.

This restriction is what makes the poetry so original; poets can express very deep thoughts and feelings with only a few words. The haiku’s compactness offers a lesson of language craft with its economy to command background and good diction.

II. Connection with Nature


Haiku is connected with the nature. The kigo in traditional haiku often places the poem in a specific season (spring, summer, fall, or winter) that reflects the natural cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

This focus brings into our consciousness a high level appreciation and sensitivity to environment, where we allow nature to unfold its mystery and beauty to us.

It becomes an evidence of humanity’s affectionate relationship with nature and that educates how human beings are able to respect and revere their surroundings.

III. Mindfulness and Observation


Haiku is primarily the meditative kind, where the writers and readers should pause, observe, and think. ‘Moment’ as the subject of the form give insight into the psychological world of the writer, helping us to comprehend it.

Composition of haiku or its appreciation can be a lesson in presence, and this enables people to view the richness of such simple moments that are often missed out in the daily unending strive.

IV. Cultural Insight and Exchange

Haiku was originally from Japan and it has been adopted by the world in many languages and cultural forms.

On the other hand, these cultures become influencers of each other, which improves the world literature tradition and ultimately creates a culture of tolerance.

The Haiku is a bridge bringing the most diversified cultures together through the nature revealing the eternal subject of emotions and universal themes in the conditions of the concrete world.

V. Emotional Expression and Catharsis

Haiku helps to trigger concentration and as a result, conjures up an adequate environment for a person to express his innermost feelings.

Poets tend to use haiku to express feelings and experience e.g. amazing joy, grief or sorrow in capacity of catharsis.

The high concentration needed to squeeze the complicated feelings into three lines can be liberating, which makes it easier for people to understand and express themselves.

VI. Artistic and Literary Innovation


Haiku has increased audience awareness of several art and literature forms beyond the usual poetry. In literature, it has been the cause of the creation of the minimalist and short-form forms of storytelling.

For example, in visual arts, such as paintings and projects, haiku plays a vital role in creating seasonal themes. In education, haiku is used as a special method for teaching language arts, cultural studies and ecological needs.

Examples of Haiku in Literature

1- “The Old Pond” by Matsuo Basho

An old silent pond
A frog jumps into the pond—
Splash! Silence again.

This famous haiku by Bashō captures a moment of serene silence broken briefly by the splash of a frog, which then returns to silence, evoking a deep sense of stillness and momentary disturbance in nature.

2- “Cherry Blossoms” by Yosa Buson

Cherry blossoms scatter—
Splash! The water of the river
reflecting the fading flowers.

Buson’s haiku reflects on the transient beauty of cherry blossoms, noting their reflection in the water—a metaphor for life’s fleeting nature and beauty.

3- “New Year’s Day” by Kobayashi Issa

New Year’s Day—
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.

This humorous haiku by Issa juxtaposes the beauty and renewal associated with New Year’s Day with the poet’s own unremarkable, mundane feeling, highlighting a contrast between human emotions and nature’s cycles.

4- “Spring Day” by Masaoka Shiki

A mountain village
under the piled-up snow
the sound of water.

Shiki’s haiku paints a vivid image of a quiet mountain village blanketed in snow, where the only sound is the murmur of water, perhaps signaling the melt of spring and the enduring flow of life.

5- “Over the Wintry” by Natsume Soseki

Over the wintry
Forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.

The author utilizes the imagery of a leafless i.e. a wintry forest and howling winds. It invokes a sense of emptiness and desolation. It captures the harshness of the season.

6- “Morning Glory” by Chiyo-ni

Morning glory!
the well bucket-entangled,
I ask for water.

Here, the use of haiku gives a morning glory flower tangle in a well bucket. It is a graceful scene that propounds that the beauty has ability to complicate simple daily tasks, such as drawing water.

7- “The Camellia” by Takahama Kyoshi

The camellia dropped down
into the quiet pond of water,
soundlessly.

The haiku finds a moment of silent beauty as a camellia flower, which falls gracefully into a still pond. It emphasizes the quiet and peaceful nature of the scene.

8- “Winter Seclusion” by Kawahigashi Hekigotō

Listening at night
to the falling snow,
in my lonely village.

The writer conveys the elegant silence and solitariness of a snowy night in a hidden village. It gives sense of the scene where the soft sound of falling snow sets up the feeling of loneliness.

9-“Walking” by Taneda Santoka

Walking
I’m just walking rainy,
sunny.

This is an example of simple haiku. It reflects the calm practice of walking meditation. He is in a state of mind where the weather, rain or shine does not scare off his mindful wandering.

10- “On the One-ton Temple Bell” by Yosa Buson

A butterfly flutters
Landing on the temple bell—
Gone in an instant.

The author employs the image of a butterfly temporarily touching a temple bell. It indicates a metaphor for the fleeting nature of existence and the elegant interactions in our lives.

11- “A Mountain Village” by Masaoka Shiki

In the mountain village,
The sound of a bell—
Faintly through the peonies.

The author through haiku focuses on the sensual image that seizes the layered setting of the sound and sight. It evokes the depth and quietness of the village scene.

12- “Cricket” by Kobayashi Issa

Wrapped in my futon,
Cricket at my pillow—
A long night alone.

Here, the haiku shows the poet’s characteristic affinity for small creatures. It indicates loneliness and closeness through the presence of a cricket, i.e. a simple yet piteous scene.

13- “Stream” by Taneda Santōka

The stream flows
Without a word—
A clear reflection.

Here, the elegant imagery has been used to convey the deep philosophical thoughts. It reflects the silence and clarity in the life as seen in the nature.

14- “Autumn Evening” by Kawabata Bosha

A camellia dropped down
Into the silence of the pond,
An autumn evening.

The author catches a moment of peaceful beauty, like a camellia flower sinks into a still pond. The use of this image is to evoke the calm and reflective mood of the autumn.

15- “The Lamp Once Out” by Natsume Soseki

The lamp once out
Cool stars enter
The window frame.

The writer gracefully employs the imagery of a dark room. The extinguishing of a lamp in the room calls for the cool and distant light of the stars. It symbolizes the awareness and a change in perspective.

16- “Solitude” by Ozaki Hōsai

My life,
How much more of it remains?
The night is brief.

Here, the haiku reflects on the conciseness of the life, likening it to a short night. It is a piteous consideration on mortality and the passing of the time.

17- “No Sky” by Hashin

No sky
no earth – but still
snowflakes fall.

The author creates a vision of the world beyond physical boundaries where snowflakes continue to fall. It proposes the endurance of the natural beauty even in the absence of conventional reality. The haiku here invites the observation of existence beyond the visible.

18- “The Camellia” by Takahama Kyoshi

The camellia by the hedge!
Look at it stand alone
Amid the bare orchard.

Kyoshi, the student of Masaoka Shiki and one of the great contributors to modern haiku, normally referenced the flowers’ beauty when composing his poems.

This is a marvelous haiku that creates a feeling of hope by showing that against the bleakness of a barren orchard, the camellia stands up as a symbol of “hope and overcoming”.

19- “Moonlight” by Nakahara Chuya

By moonlight
worms silently plot
in the chestnut.

The haiku here extracts an fascinating picture of the activity in stillness, where worms are active under the pacific light of the moon. This juxtaposition calls the readers to consider the unseen life that flourishes in silence.

20- “Autumn Wind” by Yamaguchi Seishi

Autumn wind—
what remains of the house
is the house.

Seishi’s haiku explores the core of human nature through the autumn wind, which is a universal symbol denoting the inconstancy of existence and the inevitable process of experience.

This core essence brings about the feeling of ‘home’ even when it faces change or deterioration.

21- “Falling Leaves” by Mizuhara Shuoshi

Leaves falling,
lie on one another;
the rain beats on the rain.

Shuoshi compares to falling asleep and rain which shows various aspects as well as relatedness of nature’s cycle. The rain falling alternately makes one feel persistent and the cyclical nature of life.

Examples Of Haiku In Literature
Examples Of Haiku In Literature

In essence, the haiku has enormous cultural, artistic and educational worth. It not only makes literary world more fascinating but also helps to achieve individual mindfulness and connection with the nature.

It remains as a significant and vibrant in the lives of the people today as it was centuries ago in Japan defining the poetry of haiku, which still blossoms and brings new people together with its beauty from around the world.

More to read: Literary Devices That Start with H

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