The haiku form is simple: a verse of 17 syllables, divided into three lines of five, seven, and five syllables respectively. The Western ear should note that the metrical unit is the syllable (Japanese is a syllabic language) and not, as in Western prosody, the foot composed of one or two syllables. The form of 17 syllables is not chance; it derives from the traditional view of Japanese linguistic philosophy that 17 syllables is the optimum length of human speech to be delivered clearly and coherently in one breathing.
All green in the leaves
I smell dark pools in the trees
Crash the moon has fled
All white in the buds
I flash snow peaks in the spring
Bang the sun has fogged
All starred in the cold
I seize thin trails in the mist
Look the oth has gone
The three examples above were produced by online man-machine interaction at the Cambridge Language Research Unit. The program provides a frame with "slots" in which the operator types words. His choice is constrained by the lists and arrow directions in the thesaurus and diagram (below). These show the semantic center of the poem, with five arrows going to it and one going from it, is situated at slot 5.
All [--1--] in the [--2--] I [--3--] [--4--] [--5--] in the [--6--] [--7--] the [--8--] has [--9--]
An asterisk * above indicates a double linkage. For the system to be computable, only one arrow may be chosen.
Here are two haiku written by human members of the NPL.
Is easier to do than
Don't design systems
Of automatic control.
Ride a bicycle.