Haiku: Part 1
For the uninitiated, a quick definition: Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry. Traditionally the rules are thus:
1. The haiku is composed of 17 syllables in three lines.
2. The first line has 5 syllables, the second has 7, and the third has 5.
3. The haiku is about something in nature
4. There is one word or image that gives the poem a "season" (sets it in summer, autumn, winter, or spring); for example, "snow" denotes winter, "leaves" denotes autumn, etc.
5. Similies are not used; the idea is to give a snapshot of a particular image, not to compare it to something else.
There are various other rules that you can write by as well; see Haiku Rules That Have Come and Gone for a list. Traditionally, these rules had to be followed in order for a poem to be considered a haiku. However, in recent times, the haiku has been adopted by non-traditionalists, and many of the rules have gone out of favor. For example, since traditional haiku was written in the Japanese language, some people say that the rules about syllables do not apply to poems written in English or other languages. Also, it seems that more often, current haikus are written about subjects other than nature. I'm sure that a lot of people have seen the Haiku Error Messages that have been floating around the internet and sent hundreds of times as e-mail forwards. No longer are haiku poems the realm of only Zen masters and the like; they are very much a part of popular culture.
To be continued