Autumn begins;
The slow drip of rain
From every leaf

Daoku are experiences of Nature and the place of humans within and as a part of Nature, set in the context of the seasons.

Daoku expresses real experiences of one or more of the five senses. Not fantasy. Not imagination.

Daoku is written in three brief lines.

It has two parts, one longer, one shorter.

The shorter part may come at the beginning or the end.

The two parts are separated by appropriate punctuation that gives us a brief meditative pause before moving from the first part to the second. The punctuation mark used determines how the reader moves through the verse.

Each line begins with a capital letter.

Each daoku ends with an appropriate punctuation mark.

Daoku, unlike many other kinds of verse, is not “self-expression.” Instead, it expresses Nature and humans as a part of Nature.

When the writer gets out of the way, Nature can speak.

Daoku is a very selfless kind of poetry. It avoids the words “I,” “me” and “my” unless they are necessary to the context.

Daoku uses simple words, and is about ordinary things.

Because it is Nature-based, daoku avoids modern technology; there are no daoku about cell phones or televisions, etc.

Every daoku is set in a particular season and is to be read in that season. The exception is for study and teaching purposes, when hokku of any season may be used.

Daoku differs from modern haiku in that it has definite subject matter and a definite form and aesthetic.

Daoku expresses experiences in which we feel an indefinable significance.

Daoku are not assemblages of random things, but have a sense of unity and harmony.

When shared or anthologized, each daoku is headed by its season in parentheses. That keeps the seasonal context with each verse.

The basics of daoku are easily and quickly described. The aesthetics of hokku take longer, and are absorbed through the reading and contemplating of many daoku, so that one may grasp the spirit behind them as one develops personally.

2 thoughts on “DAOKU BASICS

  1. Do Chinese and Japanese languages have punctuation?

    Chinese now has punctuation of a sort — as does Japanese, which began increasing use of it in the 19th century. But old Japanese hokku did not have punctuation as we know it. Instead, it used “cutting words,” which supplied somewhat the same function — though English punctuation is more expressive in that regard.


  2. Do daoku refer to four seasons only or to the wider range of seasons recognized in Asian cultures?

    Daoku commonly uses four seasons because it originated (as hokku) in a place with four seasons. That is kept for people writing daoku in countries with four seasons. Those writing in climates with less distinct seasons would adapt daoku to their own seasonal divisions. And of course people in the northern and southern hemispheres would follow the four seasons according to their times in those opposite places.


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