O snail. Climb Mount Fuji, but slowly, slowly!
The haiku is a miniature that originated in Japan. In these little poems, a scene or impression is captured in just a few words.
The basic haiku is composed of 17 sounds: 5 + 7 +5, producing a poem that can be uttered in a single breath. This formula isn’t ideal for English-speaking poets, because the English unit of sound, the syllable, varies in length, whereas Japanese “on” are uniform. Composing a haiku that is between 10 and 14 syllables in English is closer in scale to the Japanese haiku.
Japanese haiku are typically written on a single line, and have two phrases; two disparate ideas which evoke meaning when juxtaposed. English-speaking poets tend to use 3 lines. For example:
The crow has flown away:
swaying in the evening sun,
a leafless tree.
what I thought were faces
are plumes of pampas grass.
Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.