|History of Haiku
In Japan, short poems have a long history. The earliest Japanese poetry such as that of the Manyoshu, written in 759 A.D., includes stirring narrative, dramatic and short lyrical poems which scholars believe were originally written as part of the pre-Buddhist or early Shinto ceremonial rituals (Haiku). This anthology includes anonymous songs and prayers designed to celebrate and pacify the gods, prayers for safe voyages, formal eulogies on the death of an Emperor or Empress and courting, marriage, planting and harvesting rituals.
The 5 syllable, 7 syllable, 5 syllable haiku has evolved and been reinvented many times over the centuries. One such form is the 31 syllable waka composed of five 5-7-5-7-7 syllable phrases. Developed as the early imperial court of the late eighth century consolidated cultural, social and political forms, the waka took its place as one of the important regularized poetic forms of the period. Within imperial circles, minor officials an...