Morning Haiku and Waka – Basho’s Writing Techniques – March 6, 2016

swinging bridge
first one thinks of
meeting horses

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

“This haiku was written in autumn 1688 and is about a bridge in Kiso. The Kiso area was known for high quality horses raised there on August 15th it was the customary for the emperor to inspect his horses. All the horses from this district had to cross this bridge to go to Tokyo.

Due to his renga-writing skills. Basho was a master at making wild, wide leaps in the linking of the images in his poems. Today the haiku writing technique used by Basho is Leap Linkage.  In this haiku the linkage leap is so wide that a footnote of explanation for readers four centuries and thousands of miles away to follow it is needed. This is one of the problems of making an innovative or wide leap – how to get the reader’s mind to track it over the abyss without getting lost. The important point in creating with this technique is that the writer is Always totally aware of his or her truth. This is rare in haiku, because in haiku the poet needs the reader. Usually, if the reader thinks about the words long enough and deeply enough, he can find the author’s truth, or better still, a new one.” (CDHK)


This is my attempt for the leap linkage technique:

coloured fenced city_small

On New Year’s day I was invited by a friend to go on a walk.  We climbed up a steep hill-side to a metal cross that over-looks the lower Sarca valley.  Being completely out of shape the only thing that kept me walking was the spectacular photographs that I’d have been able to take.  Unfortunately my camera’s batteries died after the third or fourth photo.  I admit to being terribly disappointed.  Later returning to her car at sunset I took a few photographs with my telephone. The above is one of them.

fenced in
a teasing purple sunset
New Year’s day

© G.s.k. ‘16


(In Western haiku we learn that rhyme has no part of the form … which like many other rules of Western haiku has little to do with the reality of Japanese haiku. Let’s read what Chèvrefeuille tells you in this episode of CDHK dedicated to haiku writing techniques of Master Basho.)

nebu no ki no hagoshi mo itoe hoshi no kage

a silk tree
even through the leaves waery
of starlight

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

In the way of Basho

“Rhyme is a major component of Western poetry. In Japan most of the sound units (onji) are built on only five vowels, and rhyming occurs naturally. Yet, haiku translated into rhymed lines often need so much padding to make the rhyme work that the simplicity of the poem gets lost. However, if the reader takes the time to read the romaji version of the above haiku by Basho. one can see how often the old master employed the linkage of sound in his work. The rhyme, in the above haiku, occurs here with hagoshi(“through leaves”), hoshi (“star”), and the seven “oh” sounds.” (CDHK)

(So we must conclude that the problem is not writing rhyming haiku, but translating Japanese haiku which is often rhymed but untranslatable as a rhyming poem in western languages if we wish to keep the haiku poetic/aesthetic form.)

My attempt at haiku rhyme:


inside city walls
without stalls metal horses
line Padua’s malls

© G.s.k. ‘16

(As Chèvrefeuille would say, not  very strong haiku today … perhaps I’ll try these techniques sometime again in the future 😉 )


Carpe Diem #931 Bridge and Carpe Diem #932 silk tree


As many might have remarked, I’ve not been as assiduously writing as I usually do.  This is not due to any lack of enthusiasm, but shoddy Internet.  It takes forever for a single page to come up on my browser if there is a connection at all, which is becoming terribly frustrating.  So this post will be in fact a response to two prompted themes bridge and silk tree from Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.

16 thoughts on “Morning Haiku and Waka – Basho’s Writing Techniques – March 6, 2016

  1. The lines of the haiku set up the rhythmic resonance in my head …the awe or sense of wonder. The photo of the bicycles lined up neatly in rows of bike racks) on the street remains and the rhyme is perfect. The analogy of the bicycles/horses, bike racks/stalls, and the shopping area/malls…. And somehow the dissection of the poem does not mar its beauty.

    The same is true of the bridge/horses haiku. The first line sets up an image or impression (a swaying, swinging bridge…narrow, well-used, challenging) … which remains to support the follow lines which give the inevitable thought “what if I meet some horses traveling in the opposite direction?”–the challenge.
    I am new to writing poetry, I just never have…except for the occasional stray verse that just pops up and lingers. Who knew how exciting the craft of writing poetry is? Thanks so much for helping me to see it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a lovely analysis of the haiku! I’m both pleased and impressed! (And terribly embarrassed for the tardiness of my reply – connection problems!) To tell the truth until I started blogging three years or so ago I’d not written a poem since I was a teenager and then they were only scribbles – many many moons ago. It is exciting to learn the new forms and create poetry – I really enjoy the whole process … especially discovering the subtleties of the Japanese poetic forms … right now I’m going through a frustrating period and hope it passes soon so I can get back into the swing of writing. Bon Chance Gradmama!


      • my advice is to write yourself out of it. I too am going through a potential melt-down. My first thought is that I resent the interference with my thought processes… I only did the occasional love-sick-babble poem now and then back in the day. Everything you said in your comment could have been written by me–I guess its a kindred soul thing. 🙂


    • Hopefully yes … I don’t really feel comfortable writing rhyme to haiku …though of course I know it’s a prejudice .. Thanks for your encouragement!


    • Thanks you dear … I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, it’s becoming a pain trying to write lately, you cannot imagine how long it takes to open a single page at times!


        • Perhaps it’s a normal process … one might just need to take a pause and figure out where one is going … I certainly hope that this is true! However, I do know what you’re talking about and it worries me a bit. I don’t seem to have the same energy I had a few short months ago.


in shadows light - walking under weeping pines - spring rain

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