Haiku Writing and Discussion Thread 📜

I realize there have been several haiku threads in the past, but I wanted to create my own to have a place to post somewhat regularly (I might try to shoot for one haiku per week) and also exchange interpretations and ideas with others. I have never really looked into English haikus, so translation into English is probably beyond me, but I welcome any and all attempts to translate! If you have any questions or haiku of your own, feel free to share.

Here is my haiku for this week:
恋心しづかなりけり冬ざるる

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This is way beyond my ability to read, even with a dictionary :sweat_smile:. DeepL did give an answer, but I’m not going to spoil it by cheating.

Just out of curiosity, do you know if this is written in 古典語 (classical Japanese) or am I just going too far beyond my level?

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DeepL often struggles with haiku, but it can probably get the gist of it. I did write it in 古典語, mostly because I don’t have a strong enough vocabulary or poetic sense so I usually imitate various haiku that I’ve read in the past.

To give some hints:
しづか ~ 静か
ふゆざるる is the 季語

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Oh you’re writing these yourself? Amazing!

With those hints, I think its something like:

I remember quiet
Feelings of love, solitude
In empty winter

DeepL gave this:

When love is still young, winter will fall

Based on what you said, I don’t think it can handle 古典語 / 詩歌 :sweat_smile:. Or maybe its right and I’m wrong :person_shrugging:

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Technically yes, but I wouldn’t say I’m doing it in an authentic way. I mostly look up a 季語 that I want to build the haiku around, and then try to incorporate a 切れ字 (although not always necessary). In this case, while searching more about けり, I stumbled across the phrase しづかなりけり and I thought it matched my chosen 季語 quite well.

I quite like this interpretation, especially the end. I think In empty winter captures the feel of ふゆざるる. The first part is a more positive spin on the haiku than I intended, but definitely valid.
I’m not confident in my English haiku skills but this is what I imagined the meaning would be:

Love has gone quiet
Desolate winter

I’m not sure where DeepL gets this translation, but I’d love to know its thought process :rofl:
Perhaps it translates ふゆざるる as “Winter will fall” because as far as I can tell it originates from the verb 去る. Weblio 古文 gives this as one of the definitions:
①〔季節や時刻を表す語に付いて〕来る。なる。
出典金葉集 秋
「夕されば門田(かどた)の稲葉おとづれて」
[訳] ⇒ゆふさればかどたのいなば…。

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Well I don’t know much about 俳句 or 切れ字, and I was trying to translate solely using Yomichan which is why I couldn’t make heads or tails of it at first. I kind of get how to parse these a little better already, though. Clearly its more effective to do a deeper search for 季語・切れ字 rather than Jisho/Yomichan.
Speaking of which, I found the definition of 冬ざるる in this blog post (?) [冬ざるる](『冬ざれ・冬ざるる[俳句]』.

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Ah, I’m not familiar with Yomichan, but some 季語 aren’t in normal dictionaries. Even the more common form ふゆざれ isn’t in Jisho (but can be found in Japanese dictionaries like Weblio and Kotobank). I happened across ふゆざるる on this nice 季語 website while looking up ふゆざれ. The site shows a lot of examples of ふゆざれや, but I already wanted to use the 切れ字 けり so I went with the more convenient 5文字 word :sweat_smile:

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Here is my haiku for this week:

花曇り風化した道一人かな

I contemplated whether to use 独り instead of 一人, but I remembered some advice from a show called プレバト where the haiku expert corrected one of the contestants’ haiku and said that 一人 was better because the other would take the focus away from the 季語. I think that applies for this haiku as well, but who knows ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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I forgot to edit my answer for last week. Combining the past replies, it would be something like:

Even love has gone
Desolation and silence
In empty Winter

As for the new one:

1. A sunny spring haze
Wind shifts, is there a
Single traveler?

Very well done again @dorod ! I may be interpreting this wrong still, but it seems there are multiple meanings? I must admit I was very amused by the various readings.

A second interpretation:

  1. A sunny spring haze
    On the weathered road is there
    Anyone at all?

Even more:

  1. Bright yet cloudy Spring
    Journey’s fading memories
    Is anyone there?

Comments:

The reason for the difference in the second line is the different meanings of 風化 {する}. My first haiku is if you read it as かぜかする, or “the wind is transformed”. Admittedly this sounds a bit stiff but it still fits the syllable limit.
The second one is if you read it as ふうかした, which can be “weathering” according to Yomichan and 「地表の岩石が、日射・空気・水・生物などの作用で、しだいに破壊されること。また、その作用。」according to goo.ne.jp/word/風化.
The third interpretation is again ふうかした, but this time meaning “fading (of memories)” according ot Yomichan and 「記憶や印象が月日とともに薄れていくこと。「戦争体験が―する」」according to goo.ne.jp.
Personally I think it was intended to be a mix between 2 and 3, so as to leave it up to interpretation. If I’m at least on the right track, I really enjoyed the pun in 風化 {する}, and what I’m guessing is the ‘setting as a reflection of the mind’ technique (bright but cloudy Spring weather reflects the bright but dimming memories of the narrator/the once-new but now eroding road).
I think the 季語 in this one is the first word, 花曇り, which Yomichan defines as “hazy weather in spring” while weblio defines as 「桜の花が咲く時期の曇った天気のこと。春の季語。どちらかというと明るい曇り空をさすことが多い。」
Let me know if I got any of that right. Regardless, a great haiku and a nice translation exercise!

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Thank you for taking the time to think so in depth about it! You’ve put into words a lot of what I just had a vague feeling of while writing it.

Inspiration:

My inspiration for this haiku was a memory of my study abroad trip to Kyoto. I lived near a temple called 醍醐寺 and would often take walks there in the Spring. To give you an idea of what that might look like (and how I interpreted the 季語 花曇り), here is a picture taken on the temple grounds (sadly not by me):
kyotopifushimi02-_01


First interpretation:

Wow, I didn’t even think of splitting 風化 into two words, but it does kinda work! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen 化する be used to talk about wind, but I like how it cuts the haiku into an unusual pattern:
花曇り
風化した
道一人かな
Even though this is 5-5-7, that is actually perfectly ok! It’s a technique called 句またがり, where the total number of mora stays the same but the distribution shifts to allow for a certain meaning.

Second:

This is the closest to my original intentions for the haiku. I don’t have a clue how to effectively translate 花曇り, but I think you did a good job with “A sunny spring haze.” The second line was originally meant to be taken literally as it is here with the weathered road. The last line has maybe the most variability in interpretation. Especially in early spring, while walking in 醍醐寺, I would be the only one on the temple grounds. That, coupled with the fact that I was often lonely (hence my pondering of the use of 独り), was supposed to be expressed with the last line. I think “Anyone at all?” does capture that hint of loneliness, so well done!

Third:

This is an interpretation I didn’t expect! I knew of the secondary meaning of 風化する, but I didn’t consciously attribute that to the journey (道) that I was on. It fits extremely well as these memories are almost 4 years old at this point, so they have indeed gotten hazy. I think the first and third lines’ translations are also very nice ways of teasing the meaning out of what are essentially one word lines.

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This is a haiku that I made last year that ended up being quite poor. There is a major mistake and a minor mistake that make the whole haiku unable to be saved (in my opinion at least):

菜の花を蜜蜂去るや別れ霜

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This week’s haiku:

焚いた光や消え失せた五月闇

This one is very experimental for me so I’m not so confident.

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I don’t know much about haiku, so to me I can’t see any flaws here at all :sweat_smile:. It should be something like

なのはなを みつばちさるや わかれじも

Rape blooms left
By the bees
Late Spring frost

Comments:

I tried finding some error, so I checked when rapeseed flowers bloom (late spring, literally the ‘start or middle of May’), but that wasn’t it. Then I checked the 切れ字 but according to the following from Wikipedia:
“ya (や): emphasises the preceding word or words. Cutting a poem into two parts, it implies an equation, while inviting the reader to explore their interrelationship”
I don’t really know enough to say if that’s wrong. It seems to work to me. Finally was the 季語, 別れ霜. Looking at the website you shared above, it means a frost that falls in late spring (ばんしゅん) and traditionally was said to last 88 days from the start of Spring (~Feb 4 - May 2), and which was feared by farmers because it could damage their crops. If there is any error, maybe its that rapeseed blooms right at the end of when わかれじも is supposed to last, but it seems like there is plausible overlap there.

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たいたひかりや きえうせた さつきやみ

Kindled light;
Dispelled
Rainy night

Comments:

I noticed you changed the syllable distribution, what you called 「句またがり」before. (Unless I read it wrong; at first I tried to get a 5-7-5 by reading 光 as こう to get たいたこう やきえ。。。 but it didn’t work (5-6-5) so I figured that was not what you went for, especially when I read it the above way as ひかり). This puts emphasis (according to what you said) on the burning/kindled light. I think that differs from putting stress on, say, the middle line because it lends power to the image of the burning fire implying that it beats the darkness to which it is contrasted (や) but I don’t know much about poetry.

I debated on whether 焚く was たく or やく, and it seemed the former was ‘to burn, to kindle, to light (a fire)’, or ‘to light a stove’ according to Yomichan, while the latter was more about cooking, burning, baking bricks, tanning, or roasting, more akin to 焼く, which is why I think it’s たいた.

Finally, I just want to appreciate the 季語 さつきやみ, because it sounds cool and has an interesting meaning ‘dark night in the rainy season’ according to Yomichan. According to https://kigosai.sub.jp/, it is a thick darkness that can be cloudy weather at noon or that of a moonless night during 梅雨, the rainy season, apparently in midsummer in Japan. I’m curious about all the different temporal/seasonal words there seem to be in Japanese, do they all originate in poetry or do people often use them? Personally I only have noticed words like 梅雨 or 真夏, but what about words like そよ風 or 五月闇?I read a Tofugu article once about Japan dividing each year into like 52 micro-seasons, one for each week. It’s interesting how when a concept is culturally relevant you end up with a rich vocabulary related to that concept. Like how can you easily convey the feeling of 冬ざるる?

Maybe I should reread Tofugu’s articles on haiku and the seasons and Japanese poetry. Speaking of which, you have done Winter, Spring, late Spring, and Summer poems, so is Fall coming up :thinking:?

Sorry my comments always end up so long, your poems are fascinating!

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As per usual, great attention to detail and research! I think your translation emphasizes the pause after 去るや, which matches the original Japanese very well.

Motivation:

I wrote this haiku on the ferry while leaving a person who is dear to me that has the character 菜 in her name. She knows a lot more than me about haiku, and criticized the many failed attempts before this one. I tried to be clever by using the character in her name and capturing the feeling of the temporary separation (別れ). In the end, I think I sacrificed way too much elegance for that payoff.

Small mistake:

This is really quite small, but something that I learned later that I thought might apply here: it is not very efficient to use many particles in haiku. You only have 17 moras to convey what you want, and to use one of those on something like を feels a bit wasteful. If there was a lot of meaning or a particular effect that I was trying to convey with it, then it might be worth it, but I can’t remember thinking too much deeper than trying to fit the 5-7-5 format.

The big mistake:

There are really two mistakes here but they share the same root. I thought that if I made sure to keep the correct order of the 季語, in other words not putting late spring words before early spring words, it would be ok. So I chose three 季語 that I liked and just like that I had 13 of the mora out of the way! While this was very convenient, it’s not an elegant way to write haiku, and it leads to a bigger problem.
There is a concept of haiku called 俳句の季重なり, which is when a haiku is loaded with more than 1 季語. The problem with this is twofold: firstly, the subtle meanings incorporated in each word can cancel each other out (not that I’m skilled enough to detect such dissonance anyways). Secondly, it can dilute the 季語 so that it no longer has the emotion and power that you normally convey. I’ve had this described to me being served cake, pie, and brownies all at once. Now since I’m American, this perhaps didn’t have the intended effect, but alas…
Side note: It is not unheard of for a haiku to have 2 季語, and even extremely rarely 3, but most of the examples I have seen were written by masters of the art that are fully aware of the effect each 季語 has on the others.

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Comments about comments:

Yes, this is exactly the technique I was using! It’s very convenient, but has to be used with intention.

This puts emphasis (according to what you said) on the burning/kindled light

It was my intention to put emphasis on it by changing the rhythm of the haiku. With having the first line be 7 mora, I think there’s a feeling of dying out that mirrors that of the light. I’m not 100% sure I used it correctly, but your interpretation here gives me some hope!

Interesting(?) second interpretation:

The reason I used 光 here and not simply something like 火, which would be easier to fit in the 5-7-5 format, is because I wanted to leave some room for a second interpretation. It turns out that 焚く is also the verb used for camera flash. So one way to imagine this haiku is to picture the flash of a camera that quickly disappears into the moonless night. I’m not sure if there’s much value to this interpretation, but I ended up keeping the word 光 because I wanted to experiment with 句またがり anyways!

季語 and modern Japanese:

I’m not an expert so I can’t say for sure, but I imagine that some were a reflection of commonly used words at the time and others were more niche poetic words. There are apparently over 5000 季語, and many of them are definitely not in use today. Especially with 季語 like 五月雨 and 五月闇, which use the old Japanese calendar months, even if some Japanese people have heard of them, they probably don’t have an understanding of the meaning they convey in haiku. In Jisho, 梅雨, 真夏, and even そよ風 are marked as common words, while 五月闇 and 五月雨 are not, and ふゆざれ isn’t even listed in the dictionary. I’ve used a lot of weather and landscape related 季語 because it is easier for me to picture them and get a sense of the feeling they’re supposed to convey, but many 季語 are common words like butterfly and rainbow.

If I remember correctly, the micro-seasons are also a result of the old Japanese calendar system. I’ve never looked too deeply into that small of a subdivision when it comes to the time of year 季語 are used, but I can imagine the rough early, middle, and late season words can be further subdivided. As for conveying the feeling of 冬ざるる, I feel that would be extremely tricky if not impossible in English without writing a whole sentence. For that particular word, however, most native Japanese people probably would have to look up the meaning and context :sweat_smile:

I suppose the pattern has been exposed! I can’t promise I’ll always stick to it though :rofl:

Thanks as always for the detailed response. It certainly makes me think more deeply about what I’ve written.

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I’m just gonna pretend that I didn’t take a 2 week break and post as usual :rofl:
Not much of a story or explanation for this one other than it reminds me of home!

己とも甘い紅葉ハラハラと

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This week’s 俳句 came surprisingly easily to me and I’m pretty happy with it:

外知らず窓に縋るか冬の蠅

Edit:
I’ve thought about it some more and I think this representation paints a clearer picture:

外知らず窓に縋るか冬蠅よ

When counting syllables for haiku, how do the small や-column characters count?
Is 去年 ( きょねん ) three syllables or four? Although on that question, does ん count as a syllable?

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Great question! It’s quite confusing at first since we’re so used to counting syllables and not morae. 去年 would be 3 morae since きょ cannot be divided into two distinct sounds. ん and even っ do count as a mora since they sort of “take up space.”

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