What are some similarities and differences between haiku and free verse? I need at least three points for each.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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First, neither haiku or free verse rely on end rhymes or a set meter for their effect. Second, both are often used to convey emotion. Third, both often have longing or a love of nature as themes.

A main difference, however, is that haiku is a very formal, rigidly proscribed poetic form. It must be exactly seventeen syllables (at least in the English haiku tradition—Japanese haiku can have different forms). While it has no set meter, it does require five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. Also, unlike haiku, free verse can be fully narrative—it can allow the poet to tell a long story. Further, some free verse can be mistaken for prose, but haiku is always recognizably haiku.

The concision required by haiku forces the poet to concentrate on one point and remove all that is extraneous, which can lead to poems of strong emotional impact. Free verse, by liberating the poet from any artificial constraints of rhyme or meter, can also, albeit through opposite means (lack of rigid structure), allow the poet the opportunity to write poems of great impact. Interestingly, free verse poems of the Imagist school, such as William Carlos Williams's "The Red Wheelbarrow," imitate the concision, if not the exact form, of haiku.

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The main differences between the forms known as haiku and free verse are as follows:

1. Haiku is classified in the "traditional" category (as opposed to the "organic" category).

2. Haiku has a fixed pattern to it (the five-seven-five pattern of syllables in its three lines), whereas a free verse poem is not restricted to any specific structural pattern.

3. Haiku in its original historical usage typically contained a juxtaposition of two dissimilar images, as well as a word or phrase making a seasonal reference, whereas a free verse poem is not restricted in its imagery and language usage.

Because free verse poetry does not follow established structural rules as traditional forms do, there is a lot of flexibility in looking for ways a free verse poem and haiku could be similar to one another in some cases. For example:

1. A free verse poem might be written about nature or seasons, etc. like haiku traditionally has been (but again, it may not).

2. A free verse poem and a haiku may both lack any rhyme scheme or pattern of rhythm.

3. Free verse poetry and haiku both have pre-modern, non-English origins in their respective cultural backgrounds. Haiku finds its origins in 17th century Japanese poetry, and free verse is a derivative of 19th century French poets' work with language that mimics natural speech patterns. In both cases, modern versions of the two forms have evolved somewhat from their original restrictions of subject and style.

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