Masaoka Shiki Poems

Masaoka Shiki (1867–1902) was instrumental in shaping the Haiku genre as we know it today. Shiki aimed to innovate the Haiku genre by experimenting with the conventional 5-7-5 haiku syllable structure.

Shiki was also a well-known essayist and critic who wrote extensively about Haiku and other types of Japanese poetry. Formerly referred to as “hokku,” Haiku were used as the opening verse of longer Japanese poems. As part of his critique work, Shiki claimed that Haiku had enough merit to stand alone as a complete poem, and he was able to popularize it as a stand-alone art form.

After Killing a Spider

by Masaoka Shiki

‘After Killing a Spider’ by Masaoka Shiki is a thoughtful poem. It describes the negative and dark effects of killing a spider.

Masaoka Shiki was a Japanese poet who played a significant role in modernizing the traditional haiku form. 'After Killing A Spider' is a prime example of his style, evoking a sense of loneliness and regret with just three lines. He is regarded as one of the most influential poets of the Meiji period and his works often dealt with themes of nature, human emotion, and mortality. His poems were known for their simplicity and realism, capturing the essence of a moment or feeling with just a few words.

After killing

a spider, how lonely I feel

I want to sleep

by Masaoka Shiki

‘I want to sleep’ by Masaoka Shiki is an interesting poem that describes someone’s desire to sleep and how flies are interfering with that.

This is a good example of Shiki's poetry in its exploration of the human experience in the haiku form. It does stand apart, in some ways, from some of his more traditional examples of Japanese poetry in its focus on negative rather than positive or peaceful feelings. But, overall, it is a good example of his verse that should be regarded as a great traditional haiku as well.

I want to sleep

Swat the flies

Softly, please.

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