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Occasionally a haiku is written that is so full of possible divisions into what is the fragment or the phrase that writing it in one line is the only way that offers the reader the complete freedom to find the breaks. And with each new arrangement the meaning of the poem varies. An examplewould be:
mountain heart in the stone mountain tunnel light
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3. Seventeen syllables written in three lines dividedinto 5-7-5.
What makes the haiku fascinating to us is that all above,and surely much more, can be contained by juxtaposing barebranch, a crow settling and autumn dusk. For me, the elementsthat securely tie the crow in place as metaphor for an autumnevening are: one, the verb "settling" (because wesay dusk settles -- but not lands or perches), a techniqueBasho so often employs one automatically checks his verb forthis two-sidedness when one appears in a poem and two, theimage of a bare branch which can accept naturally both thearrival of a bird image and autumn dusk.
5. Less than 17 syllables written in three lines asshort-long-short.
Given this, the reader's mind says yes, both are dark,autumn dusk is similar to heavy feathers that suddenlydescend through the empty tree filling it with darkness. Yes,the black crow is the harbinger of death, the time of rest innature and in life. If you've ever been near where a crowsuddenly lands you've felt this fear folded under its wings,the surprise it is so black, so large, so threatening, socold -- just as late autumn is.
7. Write what can be said in one breath.
Yet, if you have studied and written longer poems, youKNOW the use of metaphor is one of the essential aspects, oneof the most time-tested techniques, of poetry. Our greatestEnglish language poets were the best masters of discoveringand using metaphor.
8. Use a season word (kigo) or seasonal reference.
How many times, in your years of studying haiku, have youbeen told "never use metaphor or simile in haiku"?How many times have you written a pretty good haiku but havebeen afraid to send it to an editor for fear it would berejected because it "kinda has a metaphor" init?
10. Never have all three lines make a complete or run-onsentence.
Heretofore, all poetical Japanese frogs made sounds --croaking, songs, calls. What if water was used as a metaphorfor the invisible sound? Instead of making a sound with itsvoice, what if the frog leaps into the water of sound?