haiku · My Thoughts

The Third Line of Haiku: Choices!

Haiku stamp: third line

The third line of a haiku always surprises me! It is supposed to have a punch, capturing the message of the haiku with a surprise and a sigh!

What’s the history of haiku?
Poetry word cloud: third line

“Traditional haiku poetry originally was used as an introduction to a Japanese oral poem known as a renga. In the 1500s, Japanese poets began composing haiku as stand-alone verse, and in the 1600s, poet Matsuo Basho elevated haiku to an important art form. The power of haiku lies in its ability to conjure a powerful image or evoke a profound feeling using very few words.” 


What’s a haiku? A Friendly Reminder!

It’s a three-line poem metered by syllables: five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third.

My new meditation practice feeds my haiku writing. On January 9, 2023, the meditation leader read a section from Living the Life of Awareness by Don Miguel Ruiz to start our practice. During our meditation, I ponder the reading then usually write a haiku afterwards. On this day, I wrote the following first two lines:

Where do I focus

In meditation, in life?

Then, as I considered the third line, the possibilities exploded:
Explosion: third line
  1. Focus on Jesus.
  2. On the crashing waves.
  3. Your strong hand in mine.
  4. Lin’s aged hand in mine.
  5. The hilarious!
  6. On my aging cat!
  7. On my broken heart!
  8. On God’s endless love!
  9. On my breath and yours.
  10. The gorgeous outdoors.
  11. On my neighbor’s needs.
  12. On my unshed tears.
  13. On the dawning day.
  14. On all mysteries!
  15. On the positive!
  16. It’s not about me!
  17. My belly button!

My third lines above vary from serious and introspective to humorous, and it’s always important to add humor to life. I love the simplicity of haiku with an economy of words yet a powerful image.

My favorite haiku reference is Natalie Goldberg’s book, Three Simple Lines, where she shares some of Basho’s haikus. She also has samples from several other Japanese poets.

So, which third line of mine did you like the best of my seventeen? Let me know.

More poetry is needed: third line

Do you see the power of the third line in a haiku? Do you like haikus? If so, do you write them? If so, share one with me.

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2 thoughts on “The Third Line of Haiku: Choices!

  1. Thank you Larada. I love all your wisdom and the haikus you’ve shared in our meditation group. The third line is really powerful and I never saw it that way before!

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