Some Haiku

Haiku’s continuing use in Japan is evinced by the estimated 800-1000 “little haiku magazines” published today in the country, and around 10 million Japanese are writing. In the words of literary critic Makoto Ueda, “Haiku is one of the shortest verse forms in the world. It is easy to write one. For Japanese people, the 5-7-5 syllable pattern is the basic rhythm of the language, and even elementary school children can produce works without difficulty.”

The following haiku are arranged in no order, and will be added to.


          under the autumnal
          sky, a wild chrysanthemum
          lacking one petal

Translated by Makoto Ueda from Takahama Kyoshi’s “Shûten no shita ni nogiku no kaben kaku”

          an octopus pot—
          inside, a short-lived dream
          under the summer moon

Basho, translated by Ueda

          on the boy’s desk
          a map
          and an empty cicada shell

          that peace is nowhere
          in the winter sea

Two haiku by Ôki Amari, translated by Ueda

          in the Land of the Rising Sun
          an angel
          with tangled hair

          a wound
          on the full moon—meat, meat
          vegetable, meat

Natsuishi Ban’ya, translated by Ueda