Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 8: Haiku: Blow of an Ax

by Yosa Buson

lesson image

Sharp blow of an ax,

pine scent wafts into the air,

crystal winter woods.

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

    Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 8: Haiku: Blow of an Ax

by Yosa Buson


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.


In the haiku "Blow of an Ax," Yosa Buson describes an ax striking a winter pine tree, inciting the senses with the sharp scent of pine.


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.
  • Study the map. Is Japan a peninsula, an island, or a bay?

Activity 5: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete page 11 of 'Elementary Poetry 6: Poetic Forms.'


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