Counting syllables

When I started writing haiku, I thought it was about getting down three lines with first 5, second 7 and third 5 syllables and wrote like this: 

(not any good example!)

frost’s glitter blanket 

is laid over straws and twigs

winter awaits white

There are a lot of ”errors” in that verse, seen with haiku eyes. Right now I want to show what can happen if you stick to the syllable count: I had to add extra words ”straw” and ”twigs”, also one ”and” to get together seven syllables.

How can anybody be so crazy to think that haiku’s ”soul” lies in the syllable count? Well, that’s mainly because haiku was originally written in Japanese. It was when poets began to write in English that the problems arose. Japanese is a language that differs from English in many ways. Their words are divided into different sound units, ”mora”, or ”kana”, which are completely different from English syllables. Vowels can, for example, be of different lengths and a long vowel can be counted as two sound units where we only see one. English gets many more letters in a syllable than Japanese has in a sound unit.

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