Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 5: Haiku: Old Pond

by Matsuo Bashō

lesson image
Pond and Frog

A silent old pond

legs stretching, a frog leaps in

water's sound splashing

Note: Liberally adapted from a translation to reinforce the traditional 5-7-5 structure.

    Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 5: Haiku: Old Pond

by Matsuo Bashō


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the poem each day.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poetic form.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


The next poetic form we'll explore is called the haiku. Haikus are Japanese poems of three lines and a total of seventeen syllables. Like the sijo, haikus are three lines and focus on the natural world. Traditionally, the first line of the haiku is five syllables, the second seven syllables, and the third five syllables. The "Great Four" Japanese masters of the haiku include Matsuo Bashō, Kobayashi Issa, Masaoka Shiki, and Yosa Buson. Over the next four weeks, we'll explore haikus from each of the masters. The first haiku we'll study is one of the most famous. "Old Pond" by Matsuo Bashō evokes the sight of a frog jumping into an old pond and the sound of splashing.


Poems often adhere to specific poetic forms, defined as 'poems following distinct sets of rules.'

The nine poetic forms we'll study include the:

  1. Sijo: A lyrical Korean poetic form of three long lines.
  2. Haiku: A Japanese poem of three lines and a total of seventeen syllables.
  3. Limerick
  4. Sonnet
  5. Epitaph
  6. Acrostic
  7. Visual
  8. Ode
  9. Blank Verse

The haiku is 'a Japanese poem in three lines, the first and last consisting of five syllables, and the second consisting of seven syllables, usually with an emphasis on the season or a naturalistic theme.'

Traditional haiku rules are as follows:

  1. Poems consist of three (3) lines
  2. The first and third lines have 5 syllables
  3. The second line has 7 syllables

Characteristics of traditional Japanese haiku poems include the following:

  1. Focuses on capturing a single moment in time
  2. Stimulates the senses
  3. Concentrates on natural themes, animals, plants, and/or the seasons
  4. Typically, does not rhyme


Activity 1: Recite the Poem Title, Poet Name, and Poem

  • Each day this week, recite aloud the title of the poem, the name of the poet, and the poem.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem.

Activity 3: Narrate the Poem

  • After reading the poem, narrate the poem events aloud using your own words.

Activity 4: Map the Poem

  • Haiku is a traditional Japanese poetic form.
  • Find the country of Japan on the map of East Asia.

Activity 5: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete page 8 of 'Elementary Poetry 6: Poetic Forms.'


  1. 'Haiku.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.