What is a clever haiku


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Haiku is a popular form of Japanese poetry. In the beginning it followed strict rules of form and content, but today anything is allowed. Because haiku are so short, they are also called one-breath poems.


Haiku (Japanese Haikai, Hokku = funny verse, posse?) Is a popular genre of Japanese poetry that has been widespread in Europe since the early 20th century. Characteristic of this form of lyric poetry is a cheerful or profound punch line? Which confronts the reader with his own experience or the surrounding nature in a flash. The haiku often refers to the seasons and associated feelings such as joy and melancholy, calm and exuberance.

Traditional Japanese haiku usually consist of three short verses of 5-7-5 sound units (the so-called mores, which are not identical to German syllables?). The three short verses are lined up vertically.

An example:

1st verse with 5 syllables ?: no | vem | ber | son | no

2nd verse with 7 syllables ?: yellow | light | ten | the | leaves | ter | on

3rd verse with 5 syllables ?: eh | they | ver | l | ting

(Ren Poss l?)

Important characteristics of traditional haiku are reference to the presence and the concreteness of the statement. Despite formal rigor, haiku can develop enormous poetic powers, which arise primarily from concise images and associative leaps of thought. Haiku leave the reader a lot of leeway for their own interpretations, interpretations and associations. Most Haijin (haiku poets) see precisely in this the extraordinary charm of the species.

Photo: Torsten Born / pixelio.de

Less strict rules in German

In German, the formal haiku rules are now less strict, the artfully captured image of a moment is decisive. As early as the 1980s, many haiku poets abandoned the 5-7-5 requirement. Your reason: Japanese sound units are all the same length and convey less information than syllables? in German. Converted, 17 Japanese sound units roughly correspond to the information content of 10-14 German syllables ?.


The haiku was originally the opening stanza? a Japanese chain poem (Renga). These joking, instructive or erotic poems were mostly created in a sociable group, when several poets improvised freely and informally. The improvisation, however, referred exclusively to the content, strict rules applied to the form. The focus was on memorable images that also left space for spontaneous associations on the part of the reader or listener. But just as important was an open ending, so that the next poet could easily tie in with the poetic collective work.

Photo: Rainer Br ckner / pixelio.de


Haiku took on a life of its own in the 16th century and became one of the most popular forms of poetry in Japanese poetry. Was Matsuo Bashō one of the most famous haiku poets of this era? and Yosa Buson? who now combined haiku with serious, profound and meditative thoughts. The so-called `` frog haiku '' by Matuso Basho? belongs to the most cited haiku of all:

The old pond:

A frog jumps into it.

Oh! The sound of the water.

Preserve or change?

Incidentally, it is unclear when the term haiku was coined. It is believed that it was not widely used until the late 19th century, largely inspired by the innovator of haiku poetry Masaoka Shiki? Two influential students of Shikis ?, Takahama Kyoshi? and Kawahigashi Hekigotō ?, gave important impulses to the development of haiku in the 20th century, which are still effective in contemporary haiku poetry.

Hekigotō? was considered a rebel because he questioned the traditional form of haiku and tried out new ways of expression and design. Kyoshi? however, strictly rejected these form experiments. He kept the haiku in its classic form. From Kyoshi? come from some of the most beautiful haiku in Japanese literature. Unfortunately, the magic of their clear language and the poetic power of their timeless images are rarely expressed in translations.

Photo: Torsten Born / pixelio.de

The haiku in Germany

Haiku appeared more and more in German-language literature in the early 20th century. Among the most important haiku poets of this time were Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Blei? and Arno Holz? who, however, did not deal too strictly with the classic rules of form and content. One of the most beautiful and earliest haiku collections comes from Anna von Rottauscher, by the way? and was published in 1939 under the title `` Your Yellow Chrysanthemums! ''.

After the Second World War, the haiku initially eked a shadowy existence in the German-speaking area. It wasn't until the late 1980s that a bustling scene developed. Lots of the younger writers? did Imma von Bodmershof help you? who had already practiced haiku in the 1930s. Durs Gr nbein ?, Volker Friebel ?, Heike Stehr ?, Dietmar Tauchner ?, Hubertus Thum? and Eve Marie Helm ?. Some of these authors are in the German Haiku Society? represented.


  • Couderhove, Gerolf: Japanese seasons. Tanka and haiku from thirteen centuries. Manesse Verlag, Munich 1963, ISBN: 978-3717512103
  • Gr nbein, Durs: Praise of the typhoon. Travel Diaries in Haikus. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN: 978-3458193081
  • Ulenbrook, Jan: Haiku. Japanese three-liner. Reclam Verlag, Ditzingen 1995, ISBN: 978-3150094006


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