Haruo Shirane :: The
opening verse, the hokku, has to have a seasonal word. Let's say it anchors
that opening verse in a particular moment in time. So, if there's the word
hototogisu, the cuckoo, it means that this is being composed in the summer.
a cuckoo —
through a vast bamboo forest
Robert Oxnam :: Every haiku has two parts
to it. It's divided in the middle by what's called a "cutting word."
It's a structure that is designed to engage the reader, and it permits multiple
interpretations to this potent poetic form.
karasu no tomarikeri
aki no kure
on a bare branch
a crow has alighted
Haruo Shirane :: The kigo, or seasonal
word, is very obvious: it's the autumn. And there's a, what's called a kireji,
or cutting word, in the middle, and it comes right after "has alighted," tomarikeri.
So we have two parts to what's now called the haiku, but what was then called
the hokku. "On a bare branch a crow has alighted," and then there's
a break, and the second half is "autumn night fall" or "end
Now, the important part about the cut, the kireji, which cuts the two parts
of the haiku is that it leaves the poem open for the reader to complete.
So, it's like the linked verse. You have one verse, the verse is basically
unfinished. The next person has to complete that by adding a verse. The same
thing happens within the bounds of the haiku, or the hokku. The two parts
are sliced in half, and there's an open space which the reader, the audience,
is supposed to enter into.