How to Write a Haiku Poem

What is a Haiku Poem

Haiku is a Japanese poetic form which consists of three lines. The first and third lines of a traditional Haiku poem contain five syllables and the second line consists of seven syllables. Haiku poems are mostly written about nature or seasons. They are usually descriptive in nature. Since these poems only contain three lines, figures of speech like similes and metaphors may not be found in them.

Given below are English translations of some famous Haiku poems.

Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.  – by Soseki 

An old silent pond…                                                                                          
A frog jumps into the pond,                                                                                                                                            
splash! Silence again.   – by Basho

Snow in my shoe
Sparrow’s nest  –  Jack Kerouac

Now, let us see the features of a haiku poem before learning to write a haiku poem.

Features of a Haiku Poem

We can summarize the features of a haiku poem as below

  • The main focus is nature.
  • There are three lines:
    1st line: 5 syllables
    2nd line: 7 syllables
    3rd line: 5 syllables

  • Seasonal reference

  • The third line may have a shift in focus

  • Contains sensory details

  • Doesn’t use a lot of figures of speech like similes and metaphors
  • Non-rhyming lines
  • No superfluous words

How to Write a Haiku Poem

1. Choose a subject. Haiku poetry is mostly written on nature. Try going out to the garden and describe what you see. You can also get inspiration from nature photographs. For example, try to use the below photo as a subject.

How to Write a Haiku Poem

2. Write the first two lines about something beautiful. You don’t have to worry about the syllable count yet.

3. Don’t forget to include a seasonal reference. A reference to a season (known in Japanese as kigo) is an essential element of haiku. Some poems directly use words such as winter, summer, but some use this seasonal reference very subtly. For example, a poet can make an indirect reference to seasons by mentioning a plant or flower that is unique to a season.

4. Try to include a change in the third line. You can include a shift in the subject. For example, consider the following Haiku poem by Richard Wright:

Whitecaps on the bay:                                                                                                                                                   A broken signboard banging                                                                                                                                       In the April wind.

Tips to Write a Haiku Poem

  • Use a lot of sensory Details in your poem. Describe sights, sounds, touch, smells, or tastes. 
  • Don’t Narrate, let your readers experience. Describe the natural scene using sensory details, but don’t describe your emotions and feelings about it.

A haiku poem differs from other poems because of its unique three lined structure. The content of the poem also differs due to its relationship with nature. Another special feature of Haiku poetry is its association with sensory details; Haiku poets use sensory images and a descriptive style of writing to let their readers enjoy a scene from nature.

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.