D’s Poetry : Haiku 12 : Masaoka Shiki

D’s Poetry is a living archive of all poetry penned by me, Divvya Nirula. Join me on this journey today as we discuss another one of the Four Haiku Masters, Masaoka Shiki.

“The drops fell on seeds,
Crack! The woman’s body broke,
Out came life – Drip-Drop.”

Divvya Nirula

Masaoka Shiki & the Modern Haiku

Masaoka Tsunenori was born in 1867 in Matsuyama, Japan. He was a poet, essayist, writer and thinker. His works were published under the pen-name Masaoka Shiki.

Over 200 years after Matsuo Bashō and other poets of the 17th century popularised Haiku. Shiki re-imagined the verse as modern poetry in the Meiji period. This is one of the primary reasons that he is recognised as one of the Four Great Haiku Masters. Like Kobayashi Issa, Shiki was also a very prolific poet. And is credited for having written over 20,000 verses in his life.

Shiki was born in the samurai lineage. And it was common for the warrior class to express themselves through poetry and art. Shiki attended the Tokyo Imperial University. By this time, he was already writing poetry. Being extremely well read, he was also a literary critic. And propounded many literary theories. For instance, he introduced the concept of shasei. Shasei implied that writers and poets need not stick to age old literary traditions. And instead, they should adopt contemporary styles of writing.

Shiki especially encouraged new ways of writing Haiku. Thus, breaking away slightly from traditional structure. Consequently, he was able to popularise Haiku amonga new generation of budding poets.


“Looking up
what a high pagoda
in the autumn sky”

Masaoka Shiki (translated by Unknown)

You are invited along on this journey of discovery and writing. For more poetry and verse by Divvya Nirula, please visit the archive for D’s Poetry.