Haiku Examples and the 5-7-5 Syllable Rule

Edward A. Weiss

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Most people understand what haiku is. And most will tell you that a true haiku poem must have a certain pattern of syllables and lines. For example, the first line will get 5 syllables, the second 7, and the third 5 again. This is all well and good but it's not necessary at all! In fact, most modern haiku in the western world no longer adhere to this structure. I for one think that's a good thing! Let's look at some haiku examples to see why.

Haiku Example #1:

steady spring rain -
a tree takes shape
at dawn

The above haiku poem is from one of my favorite poets, Bruce Ross. Notice that the 5-7-5 rule does not apply here. Also notice that the poem is still a haiku. Why? Because it uses something called phrase and fragment theory. The first line is a fragment and creates the overall ambiance of the poem. The next two lines contain a specific phrase about something occurring in a present moment. Read as a whole this tiny poem accomplishes the haiku sensibility, which is basically an observation or snapshot look at what is happening in the present. Plus, it's subject is nature - another common haiku attribute. Let's look at another example.

Haiku Example #2

a swallow
pond bathes. . .
summer woods

This haiku by the author completely abandons the 5-7-5 rule and still works as a haiku poem. This is because it uses fragment and phrase theory to create a micro-macro view. Also, we have the phrase first this time followed by the fragment. Notice the image that is created by the juxtaposition between the phrase and the fragment. This is what creates the poetics of haiku! To write haiku in the modern style, you don't have to worry about fitting your poem in old forms. This frees you up to creating something you may not have thought of if you had to follow the 5-7-5 rule.

Edward Weiss is a poet, author, and publisher of Wisteria Press. He has been helping students learn how to write haiku for many years and has just released his first book “Seashore Haiku!" Visit us now at http://wisteriapress.com and get the FREE report: “How to Write Haiku!"


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