Haiku wasn’t always a standalone literary form. Masaoka Shiki (October 1867 – September 1902) shook things up and showed the world of his time just how lovely haiku can be. If it weren’t for him, one might wonder if haiku would have become as popular as it is today.
Haiku is a short poetry form–the world’s shortest!–originating in Japan. Traditional haiku structure consists of three lines and 17 syllables in total. The first line has five syllables, the second has seven, and the final line has five. Traditional haiku also mentions or evokes one of the seasons—Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall. Of course, like any art form, it has continued to evolve into numerous variations from the “rules,” if they could be called that.
When Masaoka appeared on the scene and championed haiku, the previous three haiku masters had long since passed, and haiku seemed to have diminished in the minds of literary scholars of his day. But Masaoka gave haiku new life.[Read more…]