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Quiz: Match these lines of a Haiku

In this quiz, I provide the first two lines of a haiku, and you have to choose the correct third line. Whether you’re a haikuist or you’ve never read a haiku before, you can have fun finding the best poetic fit from the choices offered! Do share your experience below πŸ™‚

All of these poems are by the 17th century Japanese haiku master Matsuo Basho, translated by Jane Reichhold in Basho – the Complete Haiku (2008).

If you like this quiz, be sure to check out my 56 Amazing Quizzes on a Wide Variety of Topics! – β€œGuaranteed to make you smarter!”

  • In the box are the first two lines of the haiku. Below that are three possibilities for the third (and final) line. Choose the correct one!

    • wander around
    • a crescent moon night
    • of deer at night
  • white chrysanthemums / looked at closely

    • in the moon’s shape
    • autumn’s departure
    • no dust at all
  • autumn deepens / so what does he do

    • about moon viewing
    • the man next door
    • for a flower festival
  • pine wind / does it go around the eaves

    • with departing autumn
    • a wild boar
    • as if master of the house
  • how pleasurable / sleeping late in autumn

    • a handsome man
    • as if master of the house
    • the man next door
  • crying “beeeee” / how sad the bellowing

    • a wild boar
    • of deer at night
    • autumn’s departure
  • buying a measuring box / I change my mind

    • about moon viewing
    • as if master of the house
    • with departing autumn
  • already autumn / even sprinkles of rain

    • wander around
    • no dust at all
    • in the moon’s shape
  • in the scent of mums / climbing up the dark pass

    • as if master of the house
    • no dust at all
    • for a flower festival
  • scent of chrysanthemums / in Nara a long time ago

    • a handsome man
    • the man next door
    • for a flower festival
  • a cricket / does it get into the bed of

    • a handsome man
    • a wild boar
    • of deer at night

What do you think?

22 points

62 Comments

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    • It is interesting you should say that, because there was a time I was totally uninterested in poetry. And then I happened to find haiku! It really is very different from the poetry we learn in school. I have many Croatian friends who are big in haiku πŸ™‚

    • While in Japanese, most traditional haiku are indeed written in the pattern you describe, this has not been the case for several decades in English, either for original work or for translations. (Although 5-7-5 is still taught in school in the west, chiefly, I imagine, to train pupils on counting syllables.)

        • Haiku (both in Japanese and English) has always been far more about content than form. Forcing something into 5-7-5 syllables is a reliable way to not make a haiku! These poems usually focus on the interface of nature and humanity and should contain an indication of season. Brevity is highly valued, whereas a poem forced into 17 syllables will usually sound forced and probably contain obvious padding. Take a glance at some samples from the current issues of the official organs of
          1) the Haiku Society of America: http://www.hsa-haiku.org/frogpond/2017-issue40-2/haiku.html and
          2) the British Haiku Society: http://britishhaikusociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Blithe-spirit-27.1-Sampler-Shrikaanth-Krishnamurthy.pdf

          Syllable counting has similarly fallen out of fashion in English tanka too.

          • Personally I enjoy the challenge of strict rules and much prefer to regard syllable counts as sacrosanct – that applies to all formats including heroic couplets, sonnets, etc, etc. I am happy to stick to haikus and tankas as I understand them – it’s not just me, I might add!

        • In Japanese, it’s counted as ‘breaths’ (short long short) not specifically as syllables. Traditionally, English haiku can be 5-7-5, 3-5-3, or any combination (2-4-2, even). 5-7-5 is the typical style–and it’s sort of like training wheels on a tricycle until one is ready for a bike.

          The other rules of haiku are more important, like:
          *two connected lines of concrete imagery and one distinct satori (flash of insight) line that appears in the last or first line.
          *use of a seasonal reference (Kigo)
          *no rhymes or personification
          *must be in present tense
          *word economy
          *minimal or no punctuation or caps (only on proper nouns)
          etc.

      • Somebody once said : “Translation is like the opposite side of embroidery. You perceive the design but miss out on beauty.”

        I think this is so apt when it comes to Urdu poetry. I love poetry by Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Bahadur Shah Zafar and personally I feel that Urdu poetry has much more depth, soul and beauty than English/American poetry (having read both Urdu and English poetry). People who read Persian poetry say the same about its beauty.

        I will try to make a quiz on matching couplets. I think it will be fun. Thanks for the suggestion.

        • I’m looking forward to it already. I’ve done quite a bit of poetic translation, and I would say that to bring out the beauty is the challenge of it. It is relatively easy to simply translate the words as though you were translating prose. But when done with skill, the embroidery is not inevitably lost, although it will never be an identical design to the original, of course. And some understanding of the original text adds greatly to an appreciation of the translation.

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