My Two-Week Haiku Challenge: Haiku 1: ‘To the snow that came to my town’. With explanation of meaning
by Alexis Marie
I am reading a book on writing proper haikus. The book is called, Haiku in English. For the next two weeks I will post haikus ever Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, exploring the techniques found in this book.
Key findings #1: Haikus do NOT need to always be written in 5-7-5 form.
In the traditional Japanese haiku, syllables are determined by the kana (the letter character that makes up the word) individually. For example:
These are the kana charts for Japanese characters. With this being noted, I will provide an example.
In English, “Thank you” is a two syllable phrase. It translates to “Arigato” in Japanese.
A-ri-ga-to is the word by character separation.
So although Thank You is two syllables in English, it is four syllables in Japanese.
With these fundamentals in mind, the traditional haiku has sentence structure and syllable variance when translated into the English language.
Using the concepts I’m learning through my study of haiku, over these next few weeks I will plan to create haiku that is almost correct in form to its native structure.
So my first challenge will be to strip away the concept that the 5-7-5 structure is the only appropriate form of haiku. The four rules of haiku (form, reference to nature, one even, happening at present) will be utilize in my first haiku, without strict reference to the 5-7-5 form.
Haiku Challenge 1:
Snow storm against flowers on umbrella
God’s voice, (non-aggrieved)?
…a wistful sigh.
–to the snow that came to my town.
About this haiku:
Though some are unaware, references to nature and descriptions speaking only of one event in the present time are very common of native haikus. In this haiku, titled, To the snow that came to my town, “Snow storm” is very direct in relating to the season of winter. Note, however, that the relation to nature is not always so direct, and I simply chose to make it so, here.
Haikus are also written to describe and relate a particular emotion. By writing in the present tense, the poet attempt to convey their emotions directly to the reader in that moment, which is why the distinction for the tone of the haiku to be one, ‘happening in the now’ is important. In this haiku, I have not used any reference of past tense.
I read an article in which it is noted that the seasons have a spiritual meaning for us. In terms of the snow, the article reads,
So snow is heaven speaking to us – speaking to us through purity, speaking to us gently and gradually on our terms. —http://www.meaningfullife.com/spiritual/spiritual-meaning-snow/
hence the line, God’s voice (non-aggrieved)?
Wistful is defined as ‘an expression of sadness or yearning’. With the interpretation that the snow is a way of God gently guiding us, I have implied in my haiku that God is yearning for me to listen.
A second interpretation for my poem, one I hope some of you noticed before me explaining my intentions, is in reference to the phrase, ‘against flowers on umbrella’ or ‘against [the] flowers on [my] umbrella’. Again, it is a reference to nature. Flowers are generally associated with the warmer months and seasons, such as Spring or Summer.
So the line, Snowfall against flowers on umbrella is interpreted as the snow pitted against the summer or spring seasons. Falling against the flowers is saying that the snow is covering the flowers, thus covering the season, i.e., winter has come and spring and summer are not present.
Again, the line, ‘God’s voice (non aggrieved)?’ is in reference to the spiritual meaning of snow, but also the question mark signals my question, ‘[Is this] God’s voice (non-aggrieved?)’
‘…’ is my rumination on the thought, of the snow’s significance, and the following, ‘a wistful sigh’ is my yearning for the warmer weather. My sigh is wistful because the snow is unavoidable, i.e. I sigh wistfully.
(The parenthesis around ‘non aggrieved’ is to take notice to the spiritual significance to the snow and how it compares to the rain or a thunderstorm. Rain can be symbolized as divine tears and storms God’s anger, hence the separation.)
Snowfall against the flowers on my umbrella,
Is this God’s voice (non aggrieved)?
…I sigh wistfully.
—to the snow that came to my town.
Hope you enjoyed! Critiques are always welcome! Let me know your thoughts!
Totally excited! Wish me luck!