What is Haiku Poetry? Its Definition and Its Examples

Definition of Haiku:

Haiku is a lyric verse form of Japanese origin, composed in unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables (thus seventeen in all), and encapsulating a single impression of a natural scene or object at a particular season (e.g. by reference to blossom or melting snow).

It arose in the 16th century and achieved classical expression in the work of Basho (1644-94).

At first the opening stanza in a sequence, the haiku became established as an independent form in the 19th century. Western poets of the early 20th century, notably the school of imagism, admired its indirect evocation of feeling through natural images, and encouraged its now widespread use in English.


Here are three examples of haiku poems from Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), considered the greatest haiku poet:

An/ old/ si/lent/ pond…- (5 syllable)
A/ frog/ jumps/ in/to/ the/ pond, (7 syllable)
splash!/ Si/lence/ a/gain. (5 syllable)

Autumn moonlight-
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus –
A lovely sunset.