Sun Leaves Path

sun_leaves_path1I have read in a few places that for English haiku to be as spare as the Japanese intended haiku to be, the number of syllables should be closer to 11, split along the lines of 3-5-3, as opposed to 17 split 5-7-5. It makes sense. Seventeen syllables in English allow for a few adjectives and adverbs that can make a haiku pretty specific. For example, I could have put “rosy” or “brilliant” before “color” on the second line, but the idea is for you to envision your own colors. Maybe you think more of orange or purple when you think of dusk approaching, or maybe you think of softer colors like pink and lavender instead of brilliant ones. I tried to leave “path” open to interpretation, too. It could mean the sun’s path in the sky, or it could mean sunlight shifting from a walking path in the garden to a stone among the plants. If you’re in a Japanese garden, the color could even be spreading over a stone pagoda. It’s really your perspective and experience that fill in the image.

As with other forms of writing, haiku tends to be more challenging for me when I have less to work with. Shorter articles are often harder to write than longer ones because you have to use discretion regarding which information to include, yet the piece still has to have substance. In reporting, you also have to make sure that leaving certain information out doesn’t render the piece inaccurate or you guilty of bias by omission. You have to decide what’s relevant versus what’s merely interesting. Often enough, I end up writing way more than I need and spending a good bit of time editing. So it was with this haiku, which did start with 17 syllables.

(Poem created with the online Nature Magnetic Poetry Kit. By the way, no, I don’t work for the company that makes magnetic poetry. I just like messing around with it. Again, limitations: They only give you so many words. If I have to pull words out of my brain, it would take me a lot longer to get those 11 syllables. Sometimes there is such a thing as too much choice!)

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