Saturday, April 7, 2012

#HAWMC - Health Haikus

Today's blogging assignment is a twist: Haiku. Let’s switch up the writing style a bit for today’s posts! As you probably know, a haiku is a “miniature Japanese poem consisting of 17 syllables* – five syllables* in first line, seven in second, and five in the last. No rhyme or meter scheme is employed when writing haiku. The aim of the haiku is to create something greater than the sum of the parts.” Traditionally, haiku poems were written about nature and aim to capture the essence of the aspect of nature that is being described.

Think up a new you,
Perseverance to the end,
Laugh to keep living.


How I remember
Trumps living in the moment.
Find the good in this


Aspen roots entwined;
A super-organism.
Out of the many: one.
Out of the roots of health blogs,
Writes one voice: "Love, and endure."

Whew! The five-seven-five isn't so bad, but trying to distill a moment into its essence... that's a bit trickier. However, if we really want to step up the difficulty, we can go to the traditional Japanese count of a haiku. In a toast to my Seattle trip, I'm going to educate a bit on the haiku. The 5-7-5 meter is correct. But it's not *syllables. It's what the Japanese call "on". It's this crazy counting system that took this blog post down to the wire... and I still only got close. Didn't manage the
Although the word "on" is often translated as "syllable", in fact one on is counted for a short syllable, an additional one for an elongated vowel, diphthong, or doubled consonant, and one more for an "n" at the end of a syllable. Thus, the word "haibun", though counted as two syllables in English, is counted as four on in Japanese (ha-i-bu-n); and the word "on" itself, which English-speakers would view as a single syllable, comprises two on: the short vowel o and the moraic nasal n. This is illustrated by the Issa haiku below, which contains 17 on but only 15 syllables. In addition, some sounds, such as "kyo" (きょ) can be perceived as two syllables in English but is a single on in Japanese.
This one has 17 "on" (if I'm counting right), and I think the structure is 5-7-5. I actually composed it last Sunday coming down from the mountains, when I spotted this scene.

Bristlecone pine tree
Grows out from a boulder
Life always wins

Someday, I'll have to paint this, too. Until then, I'm on time, barely! If there are any haiku experts in the house, let me know if I've done it right for the Japanese style? ^_^;; Thanks!


  1. Can't help you with accuracy but enjoyed your Haiku assignment :-)