Haiku – short metaphors of existence

Haiku is a poetic genre that originated in Japan in the 17th century and saw its greatest flowering in the Edo period (1603-1868), when numerous poets including Matsuo Bashō, Kobayashi Issa, Yosa Buson and, later, Masaoka Shiki himself used it to describe nature and human events directly related to it.

Beyond its metrical characteristics, haiku is characterised by the presence of logical leaps that it can be seen as a form of anti-syllogism. In fact, the juxtaposition of images and moods creates a metaphor for the depth of existential experience’, in an attempt to express, verbally, the process of achieving Buddhist enlightenment, which coincides with the realisation of the emptiness and interdependence of all physical and psychic phenomena.

Below is a small selection of some haiku.

penetrates the rock
a song of cicadas

Matsuo Bashō

The first snow!
just to bend the
asphodel leaves

Matsuo Bashō

Having fallen ill while travelling
my dream still runs
here and there in the bare fields.

Matsuo Bashō

among the voices of insects
a lonely nun

Kenishi Gonsui

I will look at the moon
without my son on my lap
this autumn

Uejima Onitsura

the flower has fallen
it remains the image
of the peony

Yosa Buson

in my eyes still trembles
a laughing face

Kobayashi Issa

Please leave a haiku of your own in the comments.

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