I suppose that by now you have numerous haiku in your notebook if only you followed my earlier advice that you always carry a notebook and jot down such messages from nature as appealed to your eyes and heart. Here is yet another step to take before your haiku are made public.We call it "refinement."
You pronounce the 17 syllables of your haiku. Do you feel the comfort of the 5-7-5 rhythm? Haiku, strictly speaking, is a "song" and, like music, values proper pace and interval. Heavily worded, a haiku would fail to convey your excitement or initial impressions you had when you made it. If your haiku sounds out of tune, try to refine it by replacing and modifying phrases and expressions. Then you come to know that you do not need certain words, or hit upon those that fit the tone. Gradually you develop expertise to judge if your haiku conveys what you want it to. Words that sound out of tune may occasionally be accepted as being unique, but are in most cases uncomfortable to the reader.
As you know well, routine expressions like "ko-n-ni-chi-wa"(good afternoon), "sa-yo-u-na-ra"(good-bye), "a-ri-ga-to-u"(thank you), and "o-ne-ga-i-shi-ma-su"(excuse me) consist of five or seven syllables. You can give many more expressions of seven or five syllables that sound so good and natural when you pronounce them.
Expressions that sound natural to the tongue and the ear find an easy way to the heart of the audience. You now understand the importance ofdeliberate refinement for fine tuning. One final step in the course of refinement is that you go over a haiku one more time and make sure it has just one season word and not any more.
meni wa aoba yama hototogisu hatsu-gatsuo green leaves to the eye little cuckoo in the mountain early-season bonito
This haiku is quite popular, as you know, partly for the fact that as many as three season words are contained in it. The irregular rhythm of 6-7-5 with "wa" after "meni" brings home to the reader an impress-ive sight of green leaves symbolizing the season. Then the author's imagination visualizes little cuckoos singing in the mountain, and focuses on the thought of early-season bonito, the prime season word of the three. The calculated focus on one season word here eliminated redundancy which otherwise might have resulted from use of multiple season words. However I want you to follow the standard principle of using one season word. Unless two or more season words are vitally indispensable, choose one of them so that the reader may be more impressed.
The above exercise will give a finishing touch to your haiku by making sure that it has a good hold of the feel of season. Now your haiku must be refined enough and ready for public presentation. One final reservation, however, is that you have so far pondered on your haiku by yourself. Ideally you may put yourself at arm's legth from it for objective confirmation that your message is readily understandable, also that the wording which is contracted for the benefit of 5-7-5 syllables makes sense to the reader. It is only after all these steps are completed that your haiku may be submitted to the public for critical review.