Transcribed below for searching, etc. The typewriter is a Royal HH.

If the usual arrangement of syllables is not satisfyingly poetic in English, what shall we substitute?

First, we should remember the purpose of haiku. In its modern form, haiku is supposed to express a small but striking observation, often of the natural world; it is meant to evoke the feeling that was produced in the refined soul of the poet by that observation. (We take it as an axiom that poets have refined souls; otherwise they are just running some sort of scam.)

Now, there are several short forms of poetry that are native to English, and perhaps we can press can press them into service for the same purpose.

For example, there is the limerick. How will that work?

The breeze strokes my face on the highway
(A neglected and overgrown byway);
     It bends the brown grasses
     And sends as it passes
Dried maple leaves skittering my way.

Somehow the mood and the form do not exactly match. Perhaps we could do better by trying to integrate more of the native genius of the form.

There was a young man from Nantucket
Who said, “If I had any luck, it
     Would rain just enough
     Of the watery stuff
For the moon to reflect in my bucket.”

Or perhaps what we need is a different form altogether.


  1. von Hindenburg says:

    Is it the rhythm of the Limerick or our association of it with its usual subject matter that prevents us from being able to read it in a serious tone?

    • Dr. Boli says:

      It is probably both. The rhythm of the limerick is perfectly adapted to its usual subject matter, which is old ladies of Chertsey making remarkable curtseys, old persons of Philœ whose conduct is scroobious and wily, young ladies of Welling who catch carp while playing the harp, etc. When we hear the bounce and lilt of a limerick, we immediately think of Edward Lear, and expect that, if there is a snowflake on a cherry blossom, it will do something nonsensically outrageous before the poem is over.

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