Nature imagery is very prominent in haiku, but did you know that traditional haiku are commonly associated with each of the four seasons?
As Stephen Addis notes in his book, The Art of Haiku: Its History through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters (2012), “references to a particular season….are called kigo. In Japanese, the great majority of traditional haiku indicate spring, summer, autumn, or winter, either directly…. or through images that suggest which season is being presented. Some of these references may seem arbitrary, but they are firmly fixed into haiku history. “ Addiss enumerates the following objects and images, and the season with which each is associated.
|Plum blossoms||Dragonflies||Fallen leaves|
|Cherry blossoms||Persimmons||Bare trees|
The four seasons play a prominent role in Japanese art, culture, and literature. In Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts, Professor Naruo Shirane writes that “court poetry of the Heian period thus did not reflect the actual climate so much as to create a highly aestheticized, and…ideological representation of the four seasons.” Shirane calls this portrayal “secondary nature,” where nature is viewed in utopian terms, its unpleasant aspects (hot summers and harsh winters) downplayed. One of the objectives of "secondary nature" is to “create an ideal environment through linguistic, visual, tactile, and alimentary means.”
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