Haiku and Limerick

Reading the Percy Jackson series, I remembered the Haiku poetry. (Apollo, comes out with some terrible Haikus in the book)

“Haiku” is a traditional form of Japanese poetry.  Dating from 9th century Japan, Haiku is more than a poem. It is a way of looking at the physical world and seeing something deeper.

A haiku poem consists of three lines, with the first and last line having 5 moras, and the middle line having 7. A mora is a sound unit, much like a syllable, but is not identical to it. Since the moras do not translate well into English, it has been adapted and syllables are used as moras.

Haiku poems consist of 3 lines.  The first and last lines of a Haiku have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables.  The lines rarely rhyme.

Because Haikus are such short poems, they are usually written about things that are recognizable to the reader.  Animals and seasons are examples of recognizable topics children might enjoy exploring.

Haiku examples

Basho Matsuo

Here are three examples of the haiku of Basho Matsuo, the first great poet of haiku in the 1600s:

An old silent pond…

A frog jumps into the pond,

splash! Silence again.

Autumn moonlight—

a worm digs silently

into the chestnut.

Lightning flash—

what I thought were faces

are plumes of pampas grass.

Characteristics of haiku

The following are typical of haiku:

  • A focus on nature.
  • A “season word” such as “snow” which tells the reader what time of year it is.
  • A division somewhere in the poem, which focuses first on one thing, than on another. The relationship between these two parts is sometimes surprising.
  • Instead of saying how a scene makes him or her feel, the poet shows the details that caused that emotion. If the sight of an empty winter sky made the poet feel lonely, describing that sky can give the same feeling to the reader.


Another famous type of poetry that will be compared and contrasted in this essay is Limerick.  Limerick originated from England by Edward Lear in the 19th century. And now, the name is taken to be a Country of Limerick in Ireland.  This type of poem is usually silly, funny, and does not really make sense. The authors often write this kind of poetry to express their thoughts but not completely, they will leave some space blank for the readers to figure out. For example,

There once was a man from Peru

Who had a lot of growing up to do,

He’s ring a doorbell,

Then run like hell,

Until the owner shot him with a .22.

The major difference between Haiku and Limerick is their structure and rhythm. Also while both use metaphors, limerick is generally a funny, silly poem while Haiku uses a physical description to show the nature of existence.