Tuesday, November 5, 2019


 Fr: Andy Le* Daniel Doan* Paula Le*Kimmy Nguyen* Brianna Nguyen*Anthony Phung
Learn to write poetry: THE HAIKU 
Okay, so don't adjust your set, this is an English lesson, but we're looking today at haiku, which is a Japanese form of poetry, but lots of English poems have been written in the haiku form.

Furu ike ya 
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto."

 So, first of all, I'd like to thank my students, Kuni and Negu, for their help in training me to recite this haiku in Japanese. I hope it was okay.So, this is a poem about a frog jumping into a pond and making a splash. So, it's a very simple, straightforward scene, just a description of something in nature, and haiku is often describing something in nature. And you might think: "Well, why...? How is haiku going to help me learn English?" Okay? So, the... It's a very, very short kind of poem. You can see it's three lines, not many words, so it's a manageable, short thing to read every now and then, if you find some on the internet or whatever. And to find if there is a word in there that you don't know, you can look it up and then you've learnt a new word. And also, with haiku there is often a philosophical aspect. It's a description of something in nature, but there's also something there for you to think about.
So, okay, let me just summarize. So, the haiku comes from Japan originally. It started in the 9th century, so that's a long time ago. Basho, who wrote this poem, lived in the 17th century, and he's very famous as a writer of haiku and as a poet generally. Okay. One

of the things about haiku is it's always... It's usually in three lines, and the number of syllables is five, seven, five. Some poets, some haiku I've read in English don't always follow that number of syllables, but basically they're usually three lines, very short, so

they're very quick and easy to read, and it doesn't take a lot of time to read a haiku and think about it a little bit, and maybe learn a new word or two.

So, let's count the syllables, shall we? Just to be clear what syllables are. So:
"Fu-ru i-ke ya   -that's five- (5)
"ka-wa-zu to-bi-ko-mu"-that's seven-(7)
"mi-zu no o-to",  - five-. (5)
So that's the number of syllables, because rhythm is very important in poetry.
 Okay. So, now we get on to an English version, and because of copyright rules and all that sort of thing, I decided I would write one of my own so that I can give myself permission to use it in this lesson. Okay, so here it is, and I've drawn a tree because that is relevant to the poem, so... And you might like to count the syllables just to check that I got it right. So: 

The last leaf on the tree

What do I do now                  ( 5 )                        
I'm the last leaf on the tree    (7)
Wav-ing in the breeze."         (5)

Okay? So "wa ving" is this sort of thing, the breeze is the wind. The breeze... A breeze is a very small wind; not a very strong wind, just a gentle, little wind. Okay. So, here's the tree with one leaf left on it. So, it's a scene from nature, if you've ever seen a tree with just one leaf left, and you're looking and thinking: 

"Is that going to be blown off soon or will it stay all winter?" But a part from being a scene from nature, you might think: "Well, that's quite philosophical as well", because if you relate it to a human person who is feeling alone like the last leaf on the tree... Maybe the last person in their family. "What do I do now? I'm the last leaf on the tree, waiving in the breeze."So it has a kind of philosophical element as well if you start thinking about the deeper meaning of it. Okay.So, I'm not really a poet, so that just proves that you don't have to be a poet to write a haiku. So I'm going to encourage you to try to write one of your own and just follow the number of syllables, write one in English, and post it in the comments on the engVidwebsite. 
But before we finish this lesson, I just have one more haiku to show you written   quite a funny one, so you can have humour in haiku as well, so let's have a look at that.
Okay, so here is an example of a modern haiku written by my friend Sarah Lawson who has given us her permission to use her poem. That's the copyright symbol there to show that it's her copyright, her property. And it's quite a humorous poem, it's quite funny, but I probably need to explain a little bit to explain why it's funny. So, anyway, we're in London here  filming and London is a big city with a lot of traffic, and there are often traffic jams, very slow. The cars can't move very quickly, they get stuck. So, the first line: "A London gridlock", and a gridlock is when the traffic just gets so stuck it can't move. If you have a crossroads or something and the traffic, they're trying to get through the traffic lights in both directions, and they're just stuck there, waiting and waiting for ages.So, that's a gridlock.
"A London gridlock - But still the drivers went from Tooting to Barking." Okay. Now, if you don't know London, you may not be familiar with these two place names: "Tooting", which is in the southwest of London; and "Barking", which is northeast. Okay, so
if you're literally going from Tooting to Barking, you're going from there to there, right across London, through the middle and out the other side. So it's a long, long way. So that's the literal meaning. Tooting is a place, Barking is a place. But in addition to that, there's a double meaning here. "Tooting", there is a verb "to toot", "toot", and it's the kind of word that imitates the sound. So when you're in a car and you sound the horn, usually press the middle of the steering wheel or something and go: "Bur, bur, bur, bur", that's tooting. So, the double meaning is there's a place called Tooting, but there's also the sound and the action, the verb: "tooting", the drivers are tooting. Okay. Making a lot of noise, trying to get through. And also Barking is the place, but "barking" is also...
It's an idiom for somebody who is going a bit crazy, because the full term is "barking  mad". Okay. So, if somebody is barking mad, you imagine them barking like a dog. Maybe not literally, but they just say strange things and they do strange things. So, people just
use the word "barking": "He's barking. That man is barking", and it means barking mad you know, very strange person. So, that's the double meaning of this line. The place, places on either side of London, but also they're tooting their horns; and the traffic itself, because they can't get where they want to be very quickly, it is driving the mad. They're going mad because they can't get through to their destination. So that's the humour. And people say when you explain a joke it's not funny anymore, but I hope...
I hope you can see the humour in that. So, that's just to show how a haiku can be funny, can be a joke.
So, again, I'd like to suggest that you give it a try and see if you can write a haiku, either... Well, in your own native language, but also definitely in English. Try to write one in English and post it on the engVid website in the comments section, and that would be a lot of fun to see what you've all written and for you to all see each other's haikus.  
So... Okay, so I hope that's been interesting. And there's a quiz, I'm sure there's going to be a quiz on this, so please look for the quiz. And there may be a resource sheet about poetry more generally. So that's all for now, so see you again soon


                        Japanese Haiku by Basho


 Quí bạn đã thấy vui học tiếng Anh qua thô Haiku...
Giờ thỉ với tiếng Nhật
Matsuo Basho - Frog Haiku



#6: Deconstructing Matsuo Basho's Frog Haiku