Today’s Carpe Diem challenge was to write three haiku – one following the 5/7/5 syllable count, one following the 3/5/3 pattern and one freestyle.

5/7/5:

I hurry onwards

While my long shadow lingers

Among daffodils.

~~~

3/5/3:

Daffodils –

Stretching, my shadow

Savours them.

~~~

Freestyle:

Tempting

My lengthening shadow,

Daffodils.

~~~

(c) Jackie Le Poidevin

In this instance, I found 3/5/3 horribly restricting – I mean, “daffodil” is already 3 syllables, which doesn’t give a lot of room for manoeuvre. Of course, freestyle is easier (though not necessarily better in my case) but I always start out trying to write 5/7/5 to give me some structure and discipline, even if I ultimately break the rules. Fortunately, English is a really flexible language – add or take away a “the” or “a”, or use one of our many synonyms, and the syllable count can pretty much be whatever you want it to be – I could, for example, have replaced “daffodil” with “flower” or “lingers” with “strays” or “hurry onwards” with “hurry on” or “rush on” or even, if I was feeling really poetic and nineteenth century, “Shadow” with “shade”. It gets to a stage where it’s better to break the syllable count than use, say, “”o’er” or “e’en”, but I still like to try and stick (more or less) to the basic 5/7/5 principle initially – until I find a wording I like better.

For an example of someone who tried – and failed horribly – to follow the rules of poetry in his day, check out William McGonagall from my mum’s home town of Dundee, famously the worst poet in the English language. We had three volumes of his works when I was growing up!

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