Traditionally, haiku (in English) have 3 lines: first line, 5 syllables, second line, 7 syllables third line, 5 syllables. In Japanese, haiku also has three parts, but can be written as one line. And instead of counting syllables, the Japanese count sounds.

The haiku form “requires” at least the suggestion of a season. It might be directly, by using a word like snow or ice for winter, or indirectly, by tone or imagery. In English translations, many times the name of the season is actually used, but it’s likely it did not appear in the original.

Winter haiku by Basho

The sea darkens.
The voices of the wild ducks
turn white.

Winter seclusion:
once again I lean
against this post.

Grasshopper— you
be the cemetery watcher
after I die.

English: Kobayashi Issa - Portrait by Muramats...

Winter haiku by Issa

The older we get,
the more easily tears come
on a long day.

The winter sun-
on the horse’s back
my frozen shadow.

Awake at night,
the lamp low,
the oil freezing.

First winter rain –
even the monkey
seems to want a raincoat.

When the winter chrysanthemums go,
there’s nothing to write about
but radishes.

First snow
falling
on the half-finished bridge.

The winter storm
hid in the bamboo grove
and quieted away.

From The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa translated and edited by Robert Hass

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