Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Carpe Diem's Haiku Writing Techniques #3, Repetition & Carpe Diem Special #128, Sogi's 4th haiku

!! I will publish this episode earlier because I am in the nightshift. This is a DOUBLE episode, each part has it's own linking widget !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to present to you our third episode of our Haiku Writing Techniques feature here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. I love to tell you something more about repetition, repeating words and sounds, in haiku. I think this episode is a nice follow-up of our 2nd episode "onomatopoeia" of last week.

Among all poetical forms the haiku is the very soul of brevity. In no more than three lines it contains a maximum of seventeen syllables, often fewer. Every word, every break counts. Yet there are haiku that have space for repetition within this narrow frame. How then is this achieved?It goes without saying that in order to work it must be done with considerable skill, or sensitivity. It may use for quite different poetical reasons, however. By its very element of surprise repetition of a word or part of a phrase may make the readers pay greater attention. They may feel that in order to be understood the text as it stands calls for reading aloud. Now recitation of poetry is an excellent practice which has been neglected in these years of silent reading due to general literacy. A poem worth reading is worth reciting, and will gain by it. Often the word which is repeated changes its sense to some degree. This will encourage the reader to savor its complete range of meaning. This effect is particularly striking when different forms of the same verb are used.A word may create a definite anticipation that is then twisted to a surprise. Some haiku are written in an elusive style which it would be difficult to render into exact prose. By the repetition of words the reader is encouraged to shift them around and consider various possible interpretations of the scene. In other haiku the text may be perfectly clear and the repetition will serve as an exclamation, an expression of the sense of wonder. A scene will be compressed. A single word is used where normally a full description would be needed.The repetition will show the reader the value of the word that has been chosen and the richness of meaning within its range. Repetition can increase the impact of a haiku.
One of the most well-known haiku in which repetition is very clear is the following by Matsuo Basho. He wrote this haiku as he saw Matsushima:

Ah! Matsushima!

© Basho (?)

It is said that this haiku was indeed written by Basho as he saw Matsushima, but in his “Narrow Road to the Deep North” he writes about Matsushima the following: “I couldn’t write a haiku as I saw Matsushima’s beauty, it was to overwhelming”. So who did wrote that haiku? There are sources who say that it was written by a monk named Tahara Bo. Well it doesn’t matter really, because it’s a wonderful haiku and it shows how you can use repetition in your haiku to show the beauty of something.
There are several haiku written in which "repetition" is used and I have found a few of them. I found for example a lot of haiku with repetition written by Kobayashi Issa who was the master of repetition:

kyoo mo kyoo mo onaji yama mite haru no ame

today too, today too
I see the same old mountain ...
rain in spring 

nake yo nake yo oya nashi suzume otonashiki

sing, sing!
orphan sparrow...
so quiet

sakura sakura to utawareshi oiki kana

"Cherry blossoms! Cherry blossoms!"
they sang
under this old tree

kuyo-kuyo to sawagu na asu wa asu no tsuyu

don't complain
so much - tomorrow brings
tomorrow's drew drops

na-batake ya hyoi hyoi hyoi ya kiku no hana

canola field --
a chrysanthemum, another
and another

© Kobayashi Issa

And I found a few haiku by others, but with a strong repetition in it. Repetition can increase the beauty of haiku, but I think you don't have to over do it. Repetition can have a function in your haiku (or tanka). It can make an emotion stronger or a painted image even more beautiful ... repetition ... well try it sometimes.

tsubame tsubame doro ga suki naru tsubame kana

Swallows, oh, swallows,
how much you like the mud!
you swallows!

© Hosomi Ayako (19071997)

snow is falling
on millions of homes
snow is falling

© Taro Kunugi, Japan (2011)

the river

the river makes
of the moon 

© Jim Kacian (1996) 

Of course I had to try it myself and I have sought through my archive to find a few examples of "repetition" ... here they are:

cherry blossoms fall
the spring breeze rustles through the leaves
cherry blossoms fall

one summer morning
the sound of a dog barking
and barking again

A last one to conclude this episode of our Haiku Writing Techniques:

children's laughter
I enjoy their laughter whole day long
laughing children

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope you did like this episode of our Haiku Writing Techniques and I hope it will inspire you all to write all new haiku in which you use this "repetition". Have fun!

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 23rd at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, Pheasant's Eye (Fukujusoo), later on.


CARPE DIEM SPECIAL #128, Sogi's 4th haiku "life in this world "

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to present to you our 4th haiku by Iio Sogi (1424-1502) our featured haiku-poet of this month. We have had already three wonderful haiku written by him and today I love to share another nice haiku by Sogi with you all.

yo ni furu mo sara ni shigure no yadori kana

life in this world
just like a temporary shelter
from a winter shower

© Iio Sogi (1424-1502)

It's a very unique haiku I think, but it's so true what Sogi is saying here. Life is just like a temporary shelter, life is short like the snow ... enjoy life to the fullest I would say ... and that's what Sogi says in this haiku.

The goal of this CD-Special is to write/compose an all new haiku inspired on the one by Sogi and try to touch his sense, tone and spirit ... not an easy task I know, but I think it's a great way to learn how you can improve your haiku skills.

in just one heart beat
the sunlight breaks through the mist
revealing the meadow

© Chèvrefeuille

Hm ... not as good as I had hoped, but well ... I like this haiku ...

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 23rd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Pheasant's Eye (Fukujusoo), later on. For now ... have fun!


  1. The haiku about the dog barking and barking again is superb! It touches me deeply (even though barking dogs really annoy me!)

  2. Oh - I quite like your Sogi inspired Haiku!


  3. I love the repetitions in haiku (just like I love it in a lot of other poetry)..

    Your sogi haiku is excellent.

  4. First of all -- on repetition:

    YAY! So many haiku by Issa in one place! I'm thrilled! But to see "new" voices in Hosomi Ayako and Taro Kunugi is great too. :)

    Have to agree with Mark -- the repetition in the dogs barking haiku works very, very well :)

    Thanks for another great post.

  5. Part two -- your Sogi-inspired haiku is wonderful --- joy in that heartbeat moment. :)

  6. I especially love Issa's 'tomorrow's dew' here - so simple and magical at the same time.