D’s Poetry : Haiku 8 : Saijiki

D’s Poetry is a living archive of all poetry penned by me, Divvya Nirula. Join me on this journey today as we discover the function and use of a Saijiki in writing Haiku.

“Paths cross to the Grave,
The Smile is his born of Earth
The midnight sky cracks”

Divvya Nirula

What is a Saijiki?

As we know, kigo is the word in Haiku that alludes to a specific season. But how does a poet know how a reader will interpret a kigo? Seasons and our interpretation of them varies, depending on what part of the world we are in. Therefore, the need for a saijiki.

A saijiki is an almanac of words relating to seasons, written especially for use by Haiku poets. It is a unifying dictionary wherein kigo are grouped together thematically, based on what they mean or represent.

Traditional saijiki are divided into four sections – one for each season. Namely, Spring (February to May), Summer (May to August), Autumn (August to November), Winter (November to February). Furthermore, each season is split into an early, mid and late period. Subsequently, the kigo are split between these major categories. Let us understand this thematic division better through an example.

The words tsuki and oborozuki are both used to refer to the moon. However, while the former is used in reference to the autumn moon. The latter is used to describe the glow of the moon that is only seen in during the spring months. So, the saijiki enlists words in very specific contexts, for ease of use by poets.

Modern saijiki may also contain a fifth section for New Year, in addition to the four seasonal divisions.

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.