I figured after I've been bastardizing the form for so long, I should put up a discussion for classic haiku. :>)
We all know the requirement that the poems be three lines with 5, 7, and 5 syllables (the anglicized version of the Japanese "on," or sound units). Here are a couple more requirements of classic haiku (taken from the links that are posted on the group main page):
- Haiku typically contain a kigo, a defined word or phrase that symbolizes or implies the season of the poem. Kigo are often in the form of metonyms, or words that imply a season (for instance, to the Japanese, the frog would imply Spring when frogs emerge in rice paddies). There are regional equivalents in America...for instance, the cherry blossoms emerging in Washington, DC, are recognized as a Springtime phenomenon, or snow in the north indicating winter...but Western poets often simply use the season names.
- Haiku also typically contain a kireji, or "cutting word," often placed at the end of a line, which is intended to briefly cut the train of thought to prompt the reader to reflect on the relationships within the poem. In classical Japanese haiku there are 18 kireji...actual sound units for which there are no equivalents in English. So Western poets often use ellipses or hyphens to indicate such a break. Here's an example of one kireji, "ya" being used mid-verse, and how it plays out in English:
yuku|haru|ya| tori|naki|uo|no| me|wa|namida
- go|spring|—| bird|crying|fish|'s| eye|as-for|tear
birds crying and tears
in the eyes of fish
Okay, it looks daunting, but it's not really.