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A love haiku is a short poem that expresses feelings and emotions for someone else. Such poems can be found on cards, magnets and other gifts. They are associated with St. Valentine’s Day in the West, but can be used or written at any time. Composing a love haiku is one of many ways a person can use poetry to express inner feelings to someone he or she loves.
The haiku is one of many forms of Japanese poetry. A witty retort of two sets of 17-syllable lines known as a Katauta developed into longer poems such as choka and tanka. These, in turn, led to the team-created renga. The haiku is a succinct form of the tanka and can be combined with prose text to form a haibun.
Traditional Japanese haiku consist of 17 letters when rendered into its native hiragana or katakana alphabets. Both alphabets represent the same list of 52 sounds. Additional syllables can be created using two letters or kana. One example is kyu, however, such letters require two letters — ki + yu — to form and, therefore, count as two syllables out of the 17. This means that Japanese haiku contain little information.
English haiku are able to convey greater meaning because English is blessed with more one- and two-syllable words. While a Japanese haiku is written in one line, an English haiku is divided into three lines with five syllables in the first and third lines and seven in the second to give a 5-7-5 pattern. This means a love haiku must be spoken in one breath.
A Japanese haiku must contain a kigo or seasonal word and a juxtaposition. One kind of juxtaposition commonly used in haiku is a movement and a stillness. These can be translated into a love haiku by having a love kigo instead of a seasonal one and some kind of juxtaposition. It is possible to have a seasonal kigo while keeping a romantic theme too: “A cherry blossoms’/ beauty is only fleeting, / yours is forever.”
Haiku purists may argue that a love haiku is not a true haiku. Haiku are supposed to be nature-orientated, while senryu are more focused on human foibles. A senryu has the same form as a haiku, but does not require a kigo or juxtaposition. English haiku, however, are more flexible than their Japanese counterparts, and the term is used for any poem, even love haiku, that conforms to the basic 5-7-5 syllabic structure.