A Glimpse Into The World of Haiku
The ancient Seers and Rishis, wrote in the language of Slokas, (Sanskrit song) an epic verse par excellence, usually of sixteen syllables or two lines of eight syllables per half-line. It is quite frequent in the Gita.
Slokas by nature, require much reflection and indeed in just a few words, the God-man or direct descendant of God, can say so much! It is a common practice in spiritual groups to read and re-read the Slokas, as they are pregnant with meaning and can be seen with a new light from each read, particularly if the book is opened at random.
This is a practice among Sufi’s but some other spiritual groups are also familiar with this form of acquiring knowledge, or seeking guidance when in despair. Slokas are similar to aphorisms, but more like the Psalms of David or the Beatitudes of Christ in sublimity and style.
Now just as it is said that soccer came from an ancient civilization and was systematized by the Europeans, so too, Slokas has been modernized either consciously or unconsciously by different traditions, especially those seeking beauty or wisdom in one form or another.
One such form is the Haiku, not new, the early Zen masters made effective use of it. Nevertheless, just as music and tradition take from different ancient cultures, so too a gradual evolution of Haiku came with the spirit of self-transcendence... progress.
It is worth noting, that a good Sloka would have the effect of illumining, enlightening, awakening … it is filled with beauty, light and is designed to inspire or awaken the Heart. Haiku’s can be very similar, conveying vivid images in a condensed form of poetry.
What is a Haiku?
The term Haiku, was initially derived from the word haikai, a humorous or light verse. The hokku (often interchangeably called haikai) became known as the Haiku late in the 19th century, when it was entirely removed from its original function of opening a sequence of verse. (Encyclopedia Britanica)
Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry of three lines, with each line being 5, 7 and 5, syllables respectively, adding to a total of seventeen. Its subject can be many themes, but in general, it mentions the seasons, a seasonal word, or something in nature: wind, sky, animal, moon, rose, colour, etc. The lines rarely rhyme:
Spring morning marvel
lovely nameless little hill
on a sea of mist - Basho
“A Haiku … is a way of looking at the physical world and seeing something deeper, like the very nature of existence. It should leave the reader with a strong feeling or impression.” - examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-haiku-poems.html
Haiku may be punctuated, depending on the needs of the poem. It expresses simplicity and wisdom, in a very succinct way. Ellipsis (three dots) are a suitable form of punctuation for Haikus, but commas and dash are used where needed.
The Four great Haiku Masters, all came from Japan: Matsuo Basho, Kobayashi Issa, Masaoka Shiki, and Yosa Buson. Although their work is still the model for traditional Japanese poetry, the Haiku has evolved yet again, especially in the West and some free-style versions have been included.
Basho (1644-1694), is considered the greatest Haiku poet. Here is an example of his work:
An old silent pond...
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.
Kobayashi (1763 – 1828) is also influential:
Everything I touch
with tenderness, alas,
pricks like a bramble.
Masaoka Shiki, (1867 – 1902)
The summer river:
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water.
Some western poets and Japanese too, are not necessarily strict with the structure, but they also bring out the beauty and simplicity of the Haiku. Here are a couple of examples:
From across the lake,
Past the black winter trees,
Faint sounds of a flute. – Richard Wright.
A little boy sings
On a terrace, eyes aglow.
Ridge spills upwards. – Robert yehling
Slokas are by nature spiritual, appealing to the spiritual Heart;
"As a man casts of his worn-out garments and puts on new ones,
So too, the soul casts of its worn out garments and puts on new ones, for manifestation."
Haiku appeals predominantly to the senses, but also addresses the quality of the Heart. I have taken the liberty to name all my Haiku, but they are not usually so.
I have also stayed with the traditional form of 5,7,5, totalling 17 syllables. A more free-style form, very similar to the Haiku, is called a Senryu, which I have not done here. They deal more with human nature and can be satirical and funny.
The old noise subsides
A lustered dawn descending
Hope’s promise blossoms
A New Year
The night is fading
A new consciousness descends
Roses bloom anew
Now seeing, feeling
The bird of Silence enters
His Love’s peerless Bliss
Spring’s Exquisite Song
Brush on easel strokes
Painting Spring’s exquisite song --
Love’s beautiful face.
Stunned by Its Beauty
Stunned by Its beauty
The rose blushed in nakedness
Love’s unspoken Light
That wondrous feeling
The light zephyrs sing
willows whisper to the moon
Twilight stars descending
Love’s Supernal Wine
Shadowed mirror fades
Moons descend and kiss my soul
Love’s supernal wine
Sweet Tender Moments
Sweet tender moments
My delicate Heart unfurls
A beautiful rose
The Jewel of Forgiveness
Forgive … love … more Love
The dazzling moon emerges
A new dawn awakes
White snow settles upon cars
The hanging trees waltz (A spontaneous piece 22/1/20, taken from an inspiring snow photo by John Hansen)
All the named Haiku are done by Manatita, The Lantern Carrier. 8th January, 2020
References: teacherscholarastic.com; examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-haiku-poems.html; Meriam-webster.com; Encyclopedia Britannica; Wikipedia.org; Free dictionary.com
Slokas and Haiku
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