D’s Poetry : Haiku 2 : Minimalist Poetry

D’s Poetry is a living archive of all poetry penned by me, Divvya Nirula. Join me on this journey today as we explore Minimalism & Haiku. And consider other minimalist structures of poetry.

“The strength of two found,
Fire makes them only stronger,
Cracked hard they nourish.”

Divvya Nirula

Minimalist Poetry : Doha

Even before I discovered Haiku – I understood what minimalist poetry is. As an Indian and multilingual one has observed these poetic structures in a variety of forms.

The foremost being, of course, the doha. A doha is a form of poetic verse in Hindi and Sanskrit. It is believed to date back to the 6th century AD and is very popular even today, especially in North India. These couplets traditionally address spiritual and moral themes. It was in grade 6 that I was first introduced to Kabir Das ji’s couplets. And here I share my favourite one with you.

करत -करत अभ्यास के जड़मति होत सुजान।
रसरी आवत-जात ते, सिल पर परत निसान।

Kkarat karat abhyaas ke, jadmat hoth sujaan
Rasri aavat jaat hai, sir par parat nisaan

Kabir Das

Meaning : Practice and persistence is always fruitful. Just as even a soft rope can leave a mark on a hard rock, if it is rubbed against it over and over. Herein, we see a structure of poem that creates an image in the mind of the reader. The picture thus created is both literal and a metaphor for something deeper.

Punjabi Sayings

Having grown up in a North-west frontier household, there are a few anonymous sayings that you are familiar with. You’ve heard these repeated through generations of elders and extended family members. Here are some of the classics.

Ghar da jogi jogra
bahar da jogi sidd

Meaning : An intelligent person is recognised and honoured everywhere, except in their own house. And by their own family.
Another one of the ‘greatest hits’ is :

Suno sabdi
Karo apni

This one simply means, you must listen to what everyone has to say. But do what you feel is right. These are all golden nuggets of wisdom. Where much is expressed through very few words. It’s minimalist poetry at its best

English Idioms, Metaphors & Literary Devices

The English language is armed with literary devices that make reading and writing more interesting. Words often conjure images that are evocative of a greater truth.

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump

Furthermore, what are known as idioms in English, are called muhavray in Hindi. Consider the following phrases, both of which have the same meaning :

जिस किसी तरह 
By hook or by crook

French Minimalist Poetry & Proverbs

The French are no strangers to verbal minimalism.

La nuit porte conseil

The phrase suggests that the night will bring one the answers they need. Thus, if you have a problem, you must sleep over it. The night will bring you advice. And you will take the right decision tomorrow morning. Further, one of my personal favourites is :

I’ll faul manger pour vivra

The French believe that one must eat to live, and not live to eat. However, as someone who belongs to a North-west frontier refugee family, I believe the opposite. One must live to eat, and enjoy every morsel.

So here we have it! Different forms of minimalist poetry I learnt about before the Haiku.


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.