How to Write a Haiku Poem, with Haiku Examples 

This page explains how to write a haiku poem, and offers haiku examples and prompts to inspire you. At the bottom of this page, you'll find links to more poetry help.

What is haiku?

Haiku is a Japanese poetry form. A haiku uses just a few words to capture a moment and create a picture in the reader's mind. It is like a tiny window into a scene much larger than itself.

Traditionally, haiku is written in three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line.

Haiku examples

Here's a haiku poem written by a poetry student:

The last winter leaves
Clinging to the black branches
Explode into birds.

You can find more haiku examples by our visitors at the bottom of this page.

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.
Below, you'll find some ideas for writing haiku. If you're interested in other kinds of poetry, you might also like our online writing course, Essentials of Poetry Writing.

How to write a haiku - try it!

You can use the pictures lower down on this page to give you ideas. In your haiku, try to use details related to the senses -- sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste.

Or look out your window, and describe what you see. Try to "zoom in" on a small detail that contains the feeling of the larger scene.

Or follow the steps below to write a "surprise-ending haiku." This is based on an exercise from the poet Ron Patchett which is described in The Haiku Handbook by William J. Higginson:

  1. Write two lines about something beautiful in nature. You can use the pictures below to give you ideas. Don't worry about counting syllables yet.
  2. Write a third line that is a complete surprise, that is about something completely different from the first two lines.
  3. Look at the three lines together. Does the combination of these two seemingly unrelated parts suggest any surprising relationships? Does it give you any interesting ideas?
  4. Now rewrite the poem, using the 5-syllable, 7-syllable, 5-syllable format and experimenting with the new ideas or perspectives that have occurred to you.

Haiku examples by our visitors

Click below to see contributions from other poets.

haiku poems - page 13 
Slowly, graceful wings Lift skyward; as you lift me Friends always, grateful

haiku poems - page 15 
Christmas trees bright-- Snow falls lightly as you walk Presents will come soon

haiku poems - page 14 
Beautiful oak Pretty fountain flowing free With thick dark red blood

haiku poems - page 11 
Voice of nightingale Like God's angels, playing harp Dwells into our hearts

haiku poems - page 12 
That quenches my thirst Ocean vast and beautiful But she is salty _______________ About the author: "Poet since 08. I publish my poems raw and …

haiku poems - page 10 
Sick, though I love her even though she always lies cherishing my bones. _______________ About the author: "I am a 45 yr. old woman from Alabama …

haiku poems - page 9 
The pond, blue, round, fresh The frog jumps, breaking surface In and wet he is I'm Karis. I have written two other haikus for thins …

haiku poems - page 8 
Just look at the moon So big and round; trustworthy Guarding us at night.

haiku poems - page 7  
A dew drop smiles sitting on a leaf the tree looked indulgently at the juvenile the Great Oak secretly fumes

haiku poems - page 6 
Funny silly boy with spiky bouncy brown hair and two brave brothers _______________ About the author: "I go to Granity School and yesterday Mahuri; …

haiku poems - page 5 
Fire begins to burn In the truck red lights and horns Pull the hose and douse flames _______________ About the author: "I'm a 33yr old career …

haiku poems - page 4 
Green rushing water Draining into the seaside Reflects in my eyes. _______________ About the author: "Susan Rochelle Faber lives in Toronto, and, …

haiku poems - page 3 
On her birthday this summer I took her to watch the sea how it kisses the shore

more haiku poetry 
Some of the haiku that we recently published have disappeared from the page, apparently due to a technical problem. We are very sorry about this. We are …

haiku poems 
Fences Like Smoke Run Appaloosa... until your white spots wink out, fences gone like smoke. _______________ Morning Kiss Morning comes …

Haiku Photo Prompts


See a complete list of CWN poetry pages.

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