#TankaTuesday Haiku: Color Poetry

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.

52 thoughts on “#TankaTuesday Haiku: Color Poetry

  1. ‘Stippled with autumn’, beautiful! And thanks for the in depth information about haiku. I’m learning a lot here! I’m still quite new to syllabic poetry and your posts are truly eye opening! Thanks, Colleen.

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  2. Ah – our lawns are stippled with little clumps of brown leaves – and have been since sometime in June (extreme heat along with drought preceded by that deep freeze we had 18 months ago)

    Your poem definitely formed a picture for me.

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  3. Haiku is a detailed and complex avenue. I enjoy certain aspects, others leave me wanting.
    So I shall continue to write verse similar to haiku, but perhaps just call them ‘poems’. 😀

    I do enjoy the lessons, but I’m an old dog… and new tricks are often challenging. Top that with a fairly none existant ‘English’ education. I’ll stick with my creative imaginatiton and leave true haiku to other professionals 😉

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  4. Lovely haiku! The imagery is dramatic, and I learned a new word. Thank you for the haiku lesson as well. 🤗

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  5. That’s such a wonderful word, “stippled.” I like how you explained the seasonal word so clearly. A former teacher (many decades ago) said to allude to a season, never use the word for it. I try. Your haiku brought me thoughts of cooler weather!

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    1. Yes! A season word suggestion is always better. This was to illustrate that the kigo really makes the haiku. I wanted to portray the sound that leaves make between summer and autumn. I couldn’t get there. The Japanese kigo word lists are full of wonderful seasonal words. One description that struck me was “the wind through the reeds.” You know it’s autumn-ish because the reeds dry out as the year progresses. Those are the kinds of descriptions we’re really after.


  6. Beautiful haiku, Colleen. I agree that “stippled” is a marvelous verb, and the contrast brings your poem into vivid relief. It makes me excited about autumn’s arrival. ❤

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        1. Right? This year, we had little spring. We went from cold to hot in a matter of a week. This year, autumn seems to be creeping in quicker than last year. One thing I noticed… the birds are gone. Very few bird sounds in my neighborhood surrounded by woods. I wonder if that means an early winter?

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