The following were composed purely as an exercise of trying to stick to the 5-7-5 rule totaling seventeen syllables which had never before attempted. Later I will try a modification which makes more sense to me given the differences in English and Japanese, namely to do a 3-4-3 format with each count referring to a main accented syllable. Example:
Storm clouds loom = 3 main accented syllables.
Stormy clouds looming = 3 main syllables and two minor ones (‘y’ and ‘ing’).
Both lines have three accented syllables, the ‘o’ in storm & stormy, the ‘ou’ in clouds and the ‘oo’ in loom & looming though the first has three syllables and the second five. In English, I find the difference insignificant and so will probably work with the 3-4-3 formulation versus the 5-7-5. And then no doubt not bother overmuch about it and return to my basic 3-line formula loosely configured around Heaven, Earth and Man, the three Daoist treasures of existence-experience.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed trying to constrict myself to the seventeen syllable format even though I’m not sure it works in English the way it works in Japanese.
Generally, am greatly enjoying this somewhat intensive exposure to haiku writing though probably will soon taper off publishing so many so quickly. Have done it off and on for decades, albeit usually have indulged in longer compositions, always done spontaneously. There is something more pristine about the three line structure. In Enlightened Haiku, Gabriel Rosenstock is putting forward the notion that haiku is a universal and direct way of transmitting and receiving enlightenment experience. I think he is essentially correct. Haiku are a great gift to us bequeathed from buddhist practitioners over well over a millenia combined with various national characteristics of the gifted Japanese and now many other peoples. If you have some experience with mindfulness and awareness it is quite easy to slip into. You combine some sense of spacious awareness with any sort of arising particularity. The latter can be witnessing something in nature – which is traditional and often the best because nature is natural and uncontrived – but really anything can be the subject-object including a thought or memory. As long as there is some combination of impersonal awareness with spaciousness on the one hand and then some sort of particular event or phenomenon personally experienced on the other. It’s instant yin-yang, emptiness-form, universal-particular.
Also, there is an Arts institute here which makes paper, ink and books from scratch, so at some point will have a small run of a book of 108 haiku – some no doubt from these now in the blog – and see if anyone wants to buy such a thing on handmade paper printed with hand-mixed ink. The paper can be made of papyrus or cotton, both grown here in Mexico.
5-7-5 Haikus – an Exercise