A Japanese verse-form dating from the sixteenth century which traditionally comprises lines of five, seven and five syllables. The name comes from two Japanese words meaning “sportive” or “pleasantry”, and the form evolved from the hokku which stood at the beginning of longer poems and set their tone, eventually becoming an independent form in its own right. Its early masters were Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), whose work is often found in English translations, Yosa Buson (1716-84) and Issa Kobayashi (1762-1826).
Here a famous example by Basho:
No one travels
Along this road but I
This autumn evening.
Haiku use extreme economy to convey emotions such as longing …