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Haiku: The modern verse

September 3, 2008

Spring haiku

Spring haiku

Recently, has conducted a haiku contest on Economics. It got huge response. By the way, do you know what Haiku is? Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. It’s noted for its minimalism. It is impossible to single out any current style or format or subject matter as definitive “haiku.” Some of the more common practices in English are:

  • Use of three (or fewer) lines of about 17 or fewer syllables
  • Use of a season word
  • Use of a cut or caesura (sometimes indicated by a punctuation mark) to contrast and compare, implicitly, two events, images, or situations

Do you know even our great poet, Rabindranath Tagore translated some Japanese haiku into Bengali?

It looks very simple but very difficult to write.  Here are some of the haikus I found interesting in the Freakonomics contest:

Haiku writers know
The opportunity cost
Of a syllable

Demand curve slopes down
because the more cake I eat
the less cake I want.

A friend and I, jailed
We agreed to stay silent
(But I still confessed)

Black tulips were first
But not last, in a garden
of wilting bloom-bergs.

I borrowed too much.
Now I can’t make my payments.
It’s all Bush’s fault.

Economists talk,
But when laid out end to end
Can’t reach conclusion.

Capitalist pond
Frog bets farm on real estate
Market correction!

Cat ate all the mice.
Then tore up the best couch. Bah!

Elephants drink oil
Donkeys cannot unify
Economy cries.

As bankers get rich
Folks are in debt for life
Free markets for all

Invisible hand
gives all of us the finger
in a depression

Write five syllables.
Then write seven more of them
Leading somewhere else.

Finite resources
Maximize utility
Winter’s discontent

Earth’s resources cached
Crinkled colorful coupons
Buy info and coffee

Lonely at the top
Here wind blows at its strongest
Where to go but down?

Sales of ice cream seem
To correlate with crime rate?
Simply summer heat.

Although most of these haikus ignore the coventional principles of the verse, they do make an interesting read. After enjoying these short poems, I felt like trying my hand at writing a few. Here they are:

Hold mind, you lose all
Omniscient, omnipresent;
Grabbing misty air

Craving for stones
for the sceptre and red rose;
See lilly withers.

Do they make any sense? I hope they do not sound double dutch to your English ears.

Hope you have enjoyed. Expecting comments from you in haiku format.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2008 10:39 am

    “Haiku: The modern verse” hits it on the button!

    This is one form of poetry that is not stuck in the past, and has been constantly written by poets and non-poets alike from before the 17th century (albeit called hokku then) right up to today, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It’s constantly a ‘comtempory’ poetry.

    It’s great to see that the ‘Indian sub-continent’ has embraced haiku, and had a major haiku festival not so long ago.

    all my very best,


  2. sriniani permalink*
    September 3, 2008 4:56 pm

    Thank you Alan.

  3. September 5, 2008 12:09 pm

    Ocean of Meaning,
    Haiku is atom’s cloning,
    gives immense feeling!

  4. September 5, 2008 1:46 pm

    The Haiku format is interesting.

  5. Kalyani Rampilla permalink
    September 6, 2008 4:10 am

    The haiku form is very interesting and requires immense skill. brevity is the soul of wit. This is true of haiku, as the form involves packing deep thought in a few lines with constraints on number of syllables also.
    Economics in haiku form was very interesting.

  6. sriniani permalink*
    September 6, 2008 4:38 am

    @ Kalyani The greatness of haiku lies in its huge potential to leave several connotations of it as it leaves too many gaps in between the images and symbols for the reader to understand in his own way.

  7. September 14, 2008 5:50 pm

    blogs are great
    letting our feelings out
    they end the long wait


  8. Bhamoti permalink
    December 2, 2008 6:20 pm

    Yes …. my dad used to do a lot of haiku …. in Bengali 🙂

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