Haiku for Nature Lovers

Elizabeth Sankey

I love nature writing and have always been intrigued by the thoughts of poets such as Robert Hass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louise Gluck, and Henry David Thoreau. To explore deeper into the world of nature writing, I have been reading haiku, which hold their roots in nature contemplation and appreciation. The brevity of the haiku seems to symbolically mirror the simple beauty of nature – a lot of emotion is evoked from something that is seemingly very simple, with a meaning that may seem, to the naked eye, very obvious. The haiku also is associated with the nature of meditation, which in itself is a feeling or state of being that can be accessed and felt while immersed in the natural world.

If you love nature writing, explore haiku. Here the five haiku artists that have been considered to be masters, accompanied by three of their haikus to explore:

Yosa Buson



(Translated by Robert Hass)


fish the cormorants haven’t caught

swimming in the shallows.


Before The White Chrysanthemum

(Translated by Robert Hass)

Before the white chrysanthemum

the scissors hesitate

a moment.


Early Summer Rain

(Translated by Robert Hass)

Early summer rain—

houses facing the river,

two of them

Matsuo Basho


A Bee

(Translated by Robert Hass)

A bee

staggers out

of the peony.


The Old Pond

(Translated by Robert Hass)

The old pond-

a frog jumps in,

sound of water.


A Snowy Morning

(Translated by Robert Hass)

A snowy morning—

by myself,

chewing on dried salmon.

Kobayashi Issa


A Huge Frog And I

(Translated by Robert Hass)

A huge frog and I,

staring at each other,

neither of us moves.


Summer Night

(Translated by Robert Hass)

Summer night—

even the stars

are whispering to each other.


The Crow

(Translated by Robert Hass)

The crow

walks along there

as if it were tilling the field.

Fukuda Chiyo-ni

Fukuda Chiyo-ni (Kaga no Chiyo).jpg

a dandelion

(Translated by Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi)

a dandelion

now and then interrupting

the butterfly’s dream


cool clear water

(Translated by Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi)

cool clear water

and fireflies that vanish

that is all there is…


without voice

(Translated by Gabriel Rosenstock)

without a voice

the heron would disappear –

morning snow

Masaoka Shiki


Mountains In Spring

Mountains in spring

overlapping each other

all round


crimson sunset

crimson sunset

even though clouds

vernal equinox


autumn is leaving

autumn is leaving

tugging each others’ branches

two pine trees

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