/huy"kooh/, n., pl. haiku for 2.
1. a major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of nature or one of the seasons.
2. a poem written in this form.
[1895-1900; < Japn, equiv. to hai(kai) HAIKAI + ku stanza; see HOKKU]

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Unrhymed Japanese poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines containing five, seven, and five syllables, respectively.

Haiku expresses much and suggests more in the fewest possible words. The form gained distinction in the 17th century, when Basho elevated it to a highly refined art. It remains Japan's most popular poetic form. The Imagist poets (1912–30) and others have imitated the form in English and other languages.

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      unrhymed Japanese poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively. The term haiku is derived from the first element of the word haikai (a humorous form of renga, or linked-verse poem) and the second element of the word hokku (the initial stanza of a renga). The hokku, which set the tone of a renga, had to mention in its three lines such subjects as the season, time of day, and the dominant features of the landscape, making it almost an independent poem. The hokku (often interchangeably called haikai) became known as the haiku late in the 19th century, when it was entirely divested of its original function of opening a sequence of verse; today even the earlier hokku are usually called haiku.

      Originally, the haiku form was restricted in subject matter to an objective description of nature suggestive of one of the seasons, evoking a definite, though unstated, emotional response. The form gained distinction in the 17th century, during the Tokugawa period, when the great master Bashō elevated the hokku, as it was then known, to a highly refined and conscious art. Haiku has since remained the most popular form in Japanese poetry. Later its subject range was broadened, but it remained an art of expressing much and suggesting more in the fewest possible words. Other outstanding haiku masters were Buson in the 18th century, Issa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Masaoka Shiki in the later 19th century, and Takahama Kyoshi and Kawahigashi Hekigotō in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At the turn of the 21st century there were said to be a million Japanese who composed haiku under the guidance of a teacher.

      A poem written in the haiku form or a modification of it in a language other than Japanese is also called a haiku. In English, the haiku composed by the Imagists (Imagist) were especially influential during the early 20th century. The form's popularity beyond Japan expanded significantly after World War II, and today haiku are written in a wide range of languages.

Additional Reading
Reginald H. Blyth, History of Haiku, 2 vol. (1963–64), is both a history and an anthology of haiku in English translation, and Haiku, 4 vol. (1949–52, reissued 1981–82), expands the anthology. Another notable collection is Cor Van den Heuvel (ed.), The Haiku Anthology: Haiku and Senryu in English, 3rd ed. (1999). Robert Hass (ed. and trans.), The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō, Buson, and Issa (1994), contains translations of three masters of the form by Hass, a former U.S. poet laureate. Hiroaki Sato, One Hundred Frogs: From Renga to Haiku to English (1983), discusses the history and criticism of renga and haiku and the problems of translation.

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Universalium. 2010.

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