There are many ways of arranging the elements of an experience to make a hokku. We always think first of the common “Setting/Subject/Action” method, found in hokku such as this slight variant on one by Seibi:
The flame of the lamp Does not move; The freezing night.
In that example, the setting comes at the end: The freezing night.
The subject is The flame of the lamp.
The action is Does not move.
Because of its simplicity, the Setting/Subject/Action pattern is very good for those beginning hokku, and it can result in very good hokku when the elements — together — make an interesting event.
Today we will look at another way of arranging the elements in a verse. This one we can call the “Subject/Action” pattern, as in this verse by Rankō:
Withered reeds; Day after day breaking off And floating away.
The subject is Withered reeds.
The action is Day after day breaking off / And floating away.
We see the “Subject/Action” pattern also in such hokku as Chora’s
The windy snow — Blowing about me As I stand here.
The subject is The windy snow.
The action is Blowing about me / As I stand here.
There is also another way of writing Subject/Action pattern hokku — the little variation in technique called “Repeated Subject.” In using that variant, the subject is first mentioned, then referred to again with a pronoun (it, they, he, she) This is how it works with the two verses we have just seen:
Withered reeds — Day after day they break off And float away.
The windy snow — It blows about me As I stand here.
Whether to use the regular Subject/Action pattern or the “Repeated Subject” variant depends on the effect the writer wishes to achieve. Notice that with the regular Subject/Action pattern, an action verb used with it usually has the -ing ending (“breaking,” “floating,” “blowing). But with the “Repeated Subject” variant, we find third-person (singular or plural) verb forms (“break,” “float,” “blows.”).