Written for:  Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation #34 Revise That Haiku … Kikaku’s Dragonfly

Red Dragonfly, Seattle, WA

Red Dragonfly (photo © Michael Hawk)

“This weekend I love to challenge you to revise a haiku by a classical haiku poet. Try to make the haiku better without loosing the scene the haiku is about. For this “revise that haiku” I have chosen a haiku by Kikaku (1661-1707), one of Basho’s disciples.

Takarai Kikaku also known as Enomoto Kikaku, was a Japanese haikai poet and among the most accomplished disciples of Matsuo Bashō. His father was an Edo doctor, but Kikaku chose to become a professional haikai poet rather than follow in his footsteps.

Kikaku is best known for his haiku, such as the one in this anecdote about him and his master:
One day, Kikaku composed a haiku,

Red dragonfly / break off its wings / Sour cherry

which Bashō changed to,

Sour cherry / add wings to it / Red dragonfly;

thus saying that poetry should add life to life, not take life away from life. His master is known to have denigrated Kikaku’s ‘flippant efforts’. Kikaku wrote of coarser subjects than Bashō, and in this respect his poetry was closer to earlier haikai. Kikaku set the tone for haikai from Bashō’s death until the time of Yosa Buson in the late 18th century.”

Here is the haiku to revise, can you re-create this haiku as for example Basho did?:

red dragonfly
break off its wings
sour cherry

© Kikaku

Here is my attempt:

red darting dragonfly
shimmers in late afternoon
like a candy apple


About purplepeninportland

I am a freelance poet, born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. I live with my husband, John, and two charming rescue dogs–Marion Miller and Murphy. We spent eight lovely years in Portland, OR, but are now back in New York. My goal is to create and share poetry with others who write, or simply enjoy reading poetry. I hope to touch a nerve in you, and feel your sparks as well.
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2 Responses to dragonfly

  1. mhmp77 says:


    Nice revised haiku, Sara!



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