Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #19 as is above; as below

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Though it seems to be using a religious precept, this technique is only working to make the tiny haiku a well-rounded thought. Maybe you can remember our series about the Tarot, or more specific, the Great Arcana of the Tarot, in which I tried to bring back the Christian meaning of the Tarot. In that series I frequently used the precept "as is above, so is below" in a religious way. This episode of CDHWT takes you to the "as is above, as below" (a very explicit religious proverb) in haiku. So let's go on with this episode.

Simply said: "the first line and the third line exhibit a connectedness or a completeness". Some say one should be able to read the first line and the third line to find it makes a complete thought. Sometimes one does not know in which order to place the images in a haiku. When the images in the first and third lines have the strongest relationship, the haiku usually feels balanced. As an exercise, take any haiku and switch the lines around to see how this factor works. Try reading the following haiku without the second line. See how "straight down" applies both to the rain and the horse's head:

the horse's head bowed
straight down

© Jane Reichhold

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Or take this haiku by Basho and switch the lines around to see how this works, or try reading this haiku without the second line:

snow on snow
this night in December
a full moon 

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Let me also "explain" the situation in which Basho composed this haiku and literally uses this technique in a "real" situation.

Basho was staying with the rice merchant Tokoku in Nagoya, two members of the renga group had a grave difference of opinion. Basho, as acknowledged leader, was in charge of easing the tension. The message seems to be that radiance is everywhere. In my opinion a "real" case of "as is above; as below".

In a way this "as is above; as below" technique is similar with Baransu, of course with a slight difference, in which we try to bring "balance" in our haiku. Isn't that an awesome idea!?

Credits: Buddha with mirrored moon

I like this haiku writing technique and I had to use it ... just to see if it works. It wasn't easy, but I think I succeeded in a nice way.

steel blue night
the old pond ripples in the breeze
mirrored full moon

© Chèvrefeuille

colored leaves
struggling with the wind
dance through the street

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... this is another nice way to improve your haiku. This "as is above; as below" technique is awesome, but it's not an easy technique to use. Have fun ... !

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 20th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, sacred stone (ovo), later on.


  1. I am really having fun with this haiku writing technique. Thanks so much Kristjaan for such a wonderful exposure!

  2. Another great post, Chèvre! I tried to combine the above/below idea with previous themes of prayer/darkest hour.