maple leaves on the green grass stippled with autumn © Colleen M. Chesebro
In Haiku: A Poet’s Guide by Lee Gurga, explains why we don’t use similes or metaphors in haiku because “…figurative images present things not as they are in themselves but in relation to something else.” He adds:
“Nouns are the meat of haiku. Verbs are used in haiku, they are not absolutely necessary. Many haiku poets do away with them. Most of the finest haiku use concrete nouns to construct a literal image, which is something quite different from the figurative image Westerners are accustomed to meeting in poetry.”Haiku: A Poet’s Guide, by Lee Gurga: The Art of Haiku, pp. 48-49
“A concrete noun is an object that can be perceived with the senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste).” GrammarBook.com
I wrote this haiku with only one verb, stippled. There are two concrete nouns: leaves and grass. However, the leaves are the subject. Green is an adjective. I’m not an English teacher, but I grasp the gist of what Gurga means about the concrete nouns. This took me a while to put together. I had to really think about what I wanted to portray in my haiku.
I wanted to portray two images: maple leaves on the green grass, and how the green grass looks covered by the leaves. If I didn’t use the kigo word autumn, you would imagine green leaves on green grass. There’s nothing special about that, is there?
Now imagine the green grass stippled with autumn leaves. That is your aha moment—how the colored leaves of autumn contrast against the green grass. Now, your mind explodes in a kaleidoscopic of color.
I purposely did not add a photo to this post. I wanted you to read my words and see through my eyes. That is the beauty of haiku.
**I forgot to add that Gurga says, “the primary poetic technique of haiku is the placing of two or three images side by side without interpretation.” He adds, “One image comes from the natural world. The second image relates to the first, sometimes closely, sometimes more ambiguously. This causes us to do an internal comparison.”
The featured image is a photo of the trees in my neighborhood. It was the contrast of the greens that got me thinking.