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Senryū

  • By: Marguerite Wells
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Senryū and Haiku are related Japanese poetic genres. Although whimsy, even humor, were original elements of Haiku, by the last decades of the 20th century, Haiku had become well known outside Japan as a serious form of poetry that can also be written in English and other languages. Its genius is to capture, in a poem consisting of three lines of 5–7–5 syllables, a moment frozen in time. The classic and widely known Haiku poem is one by Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694; translations by Marguerite Wells unless otherwise stated):

Furu ike ya (5)

Ah, an old pond

Kawazu tobikomu (7)

A frog jumps in

Mizu no oto (5)

The sound of water

Senryū developed out of Renga, an ancient verse-capping game where players were given a verse and had to add another three ...

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