[openbeos] Re: what's with Big B?

  • From: Miguel Zúñiga <mzuniga@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 28 May 2006 19:00:51 -0500

I remember well
The syllable argument
From ages ago

Actually I don't remember it that well, but I have a feeling the 5-7-5 is an English invention and actual Japanese Haiku just have a limit on the overall number of syllables. I think it must reference seasons or something too in order to be a true Haiku.

Who said this list was too technical? :D


For the ones who love the technical references in this list: Taken from The Haiku Anthology by Cor Van Den Heuvel, Norton 1999:

There is some debate about this. It is difficult to transcribe something that has occurred in Japanese to English completely. Even Basho did not always write in 5 - 7 - 5 syllable framework.

And even so, haiku is more than just the supposedly "correct" syllabic framework.

A haiku is not just a pretty picture in three lines of 5 - 7 - 5 syllables each. In fact, most haiku in English are not written in 5 -7 - 5 syllables at all. Many are not even written in three lines.

What distinguishes haiku is concision, perception and awareness - not a set number of syllables. A haiku is a short poem recording the essense of a moment keenly perceived in which Nature is linked to human nature.

A haiku can be anywhere from a few to seventeen syllables, rarely more. It is now known that 12 - not 17 - syllables in English are equivalent in length to the 17 onji (sound symbols) of the Japanese haiku. A number of poets are writing them shorter than that. The results almost literally fit Alan watts' description of haiku as "wordless" poems

Like most things in language, poetic technique is an evolving thing. There is much more to haiku than the traditional western understanding of 5-7-5. The piquancy of the moment is a defining characteristic as well... and so on.

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