Zen Haiku

One of the most unique forms of spiritual poetry is Zen haiku. Nancy Wilson Ross writes in The World of Zen that "this special poetic form concerns itself entirely with the simple, trivial, usually overlooked material of everyday life; with things which, however insignificant on the surface, are nonetheless 'precious treasures and inexhaustible riches' to anyone who has learned not only to look but to see."

The traditional haiku has an established form which is characterized by extreme economy. Yet, the successful haiku must not only evoke a mood but also convey a vivid picture which will stir the heart and imagination of the listener or reader.


It is spring
In this hut
  there is nothing
  there is everything.

- Ryoto


The old pond.
A frog jumps in

  - Basho


The falling leaves
fall and pile up; the rain
beats on the rain.

     - Gyodai


Under the shade
of cherry trees
there are
no strangers.

     - Issa



Look, children,
Let's rush out!

- Basho


No sky at all;
no earth at all -- and still
the snowflakes fall . . .

- Hashin



Autumn --
even the birds
and clouds look old.

- Basho


The desolation of winter;
Passing through a small hamlet,
A dog barks.

   - Shiki


The thief
Left it behind --
The moon at the window.

   - Ryokan


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