Haiku – Concept and examples

We explain what a haiku is, how it is composed and the topics it usually covers. In addition, famous poets of the haikús and examples.

Haiku is originally from Japan and does not present rhyme of any kind.

What is a haiku?

It is known as haiku or haiku (in some cases jaiku) to a type of poetry originating in Japan, which consists of a short text, composed of three verses of five, seven and five syllables respectively, although the meter is not always so fixed. Its original essence supposed the union of two ideas or poetic images and their “cut” or separation by a final one. Haiku do not present rhyme of any kind.

The haiku generally involves a feeling of admiration or fascination of the poet regarding the contemplation of nature, especially if it has to do with time and the passing of the seasons. It is also common for it to refer to people’s daily lives.

His style it is usually simple, natural, subtle and austere, offering the poet’s gaze from the details and the sensitive, as far as possible from abstract concepts. It is hoped that the poet’s ego or hajin step aside and give way to pure contemplation, to the call aware.

Formerly the poets accompanied their haikús with an illustration, not very finished, which was called haiga. This tradition was inaugurated by the most famous and recognized cultist of this type of poetry, which was Matsuo Bashö (1644-1694), the most famous poet of the Japanese Edo period.

Other haiku cultures were Ihara Saikaku (1642-1693), Ueshima Onitsura (1661-1738), Yosa Buson (1716-1784), Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827), Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), among others. Many western authors have been fascinated by this type of poetry and have cultivated it in their respective languages.


Some known haikus are the following:

  • From Matsuo Bashö:

This path
nobody goes through it anymore
except twilight.

  • From Yosa Buson:

The slow days
stack up, evoking
an old man of old.

  • From Kobayashi Issa:

If you are not there,
too huge
it would be the forest.

  • From Masaoka Shiki:

I cut a branch
and clarified better
Through the window.

  • From Jorge Luis Borges:

Is it an empire
that light that goes out
or a firefly?

  • From Octavio Paz:

Made of air
between pines and rocks
the poem sprouts.

  • From Mario Benedetti:

The dew trembles
and the purple leaves
and a hummingbird.

Love haikus

Although haikús tend to be about the contemplation of nature, it is possible to find some that have love as a theme, for example:

  • From Yosa Buson:

Deep melancholy.
My late wife’s comb
I have stepped in the bedroom.

  • From Kobayashi Issa:

Come with me,
Play with me,
sparrow without parents.

  • From Masaoka Shiki:

The cherry blossoms;
no wife, sad
at the inn.

  • From Natsume Sooseki:

Moon to the east.
Sleeping you will be
at these hours.

  • From Nagai Kafuu:

Lily scent.
Door where I wait for someone;
veiled moonlit night.