Once confined to a literary elite in Japan, Haiku are now written all over the world by poets who find their combination of brevity, technical discipline and expressive content irresistible. Dominated by four great masters - Basho, Busson, Issa and Shiki - who between them compress the gamut of human experience into the limits of seventeen syllables. Haiku has an analogy with Chinese drawings that evoke huge landscapes by a few strokes of the brush.
The moon in the water The water-fowl
Turned a somersault Lays its beak in its breast
and floated away And sleeps as it floats
Early dusk: Plum-blossoms
The mouth of the toad My spring
Exhales the moon. In an ecstacy.
In my medicine cabinet,
the winter fly
Has died of old age
JACK KEROUAC [Author of 'On The Road']