—by Alice Stipak, Portland, OR

Haiku is one of the most important forms of traditional Japanese poetry, meant to be read slowly and savored. Strictly speaking the history of haiku begins only in the last years of the 19th century. The famous verses of such Edo-period (1600-1868) masters as Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa are properly referred to as hokku. The history of modern haiku dates from 1892 through the efforts of Masaoka Shiki, which established haiku as a new independent poetic form.

Below is a selection of wonderful haiku, written by Portland meditation student Alice Stipak:

Following my need
Deeper into the forest
Losing the familiar paths
I have found my way


Releasing deadness
Bright colors swirl around me
Pulling energy inside
I brace for winter


Lay down sword and shield
Necessary on the earth,
They keep me from knowing Self
Two more dead leaves fall


When did I forget?
Hardening, I turned to ice
Melting, rejoining the flow
Now I remember.


Wafting waltz of white
Rescinding autumn sadness
Merrily mocking winter
Cherry blossom snow


Music fills my heart
Shadows release in the sun.
Dance deeper into my soul
Awaken my love!


Buried in darkness
Restless in the face of fear
Swelling with an aching dream
The seed breaks its hull


Be like the river
Surrender to gravity
The water finds its freedom
Deeply letting go


Leaping from the nest
Into the domain of flight
Seized by fear and fierce desire
I open my wings


Now in the River
Letting go of mossy rocks
Cool water dancing with light
Swimming with the Flow


Anchoring itself
Surrendering all it knew
For a dream it can’t fathom
Monarch chrysalis


Sitting before you
I see a living mountain
Rising, breaking through the clouds
Sharing the fresh air


Sweet freedom of flight
Singing currents of air call
The beating wings of my heart
Let my spirit soar!