|Japanese pond in a garden - with lily pads and frog.|
"Haiku began in thirteenth-century Japan as the opening phrase of a renga, a form of spoken poem, generally 100 stanzas long, which was also composed syllabically. The much shorter haiku broke away from renga in the sixteenth-century, and was mastered a century later by the poet Matsuo Basho, who wrote this classic example:"
An old pond!Basho executed the form with subtle perfection, including moments of reflection, joy, and even humor:
A frog jumps in—
the sound of water.
now then, let's go out
to enjoy the snow... until
I slip and fall!
The traditional form is generally viewed as three lines with five, seven, and then five syllables each. Although breaking the form is common in modern poetry. There are many other aspects to a haiku, not just the length and form. For example, a "haiku traditionally contains a kigo, a word or phrase that symbolizes or implies the season of the poem." The specific words in Japanese were proscribed, and each pointed to a specific season. Frogs, cherry blossoms, and swallows signify spring. Summer is indicated by words such as the lotus flower, cicada, and the rainy season. Autumn is denoted with the full Moon, crickets, and colored leaves. Finally, the cold, fallen leaves, snow, and winter holidays all indicate the winter season.
Prompt #14: Write a nature haiku based on a natural scene either before you, in your memory, or in a picture. Include as many aspects of a traditional haiku as you can - the syllable count, a word or phrase for the season, and a 'surprise' moment for the end. As you ponder your scene, consider what will evoke it in the shortest number of words. What is the 'ah-ha' moment that comes to you, the twist or surprise that will make a reader nod or gasp, reading your poem?
For something more specific, write four haiku about your scene. Each should reflect the view in a different season.
As usual, I'm pondering nature haiku from a sci-fi, horror, or fantasy point of view. I think this one will end up as another werewolf poem, but what can you do?
Did you use this or one of our other prompts? You can post your poem in our comments, if you like.
Prompts crafted by:
J.A. Grier, Senior Scientist and Education Specialist, Planetary Science Institute
Amy Grier, Managing Editor, Solstice Literary Magazine
Image Credits: Japanese Garden CC 3.0 Wikimedia Commons