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In Japan short poems have a long history The earliest Japanese poetry such as that of the Manyoshu written in 759 AD includes stirring narrative dramatic and short lyrical poems which scholars believe were originally written as part of the pre-Buddhist or early Shinto ceremonial rituals Haiku This anthology includes anonymous songs and prayers designed to celebrate and pacify the gods prayers for safe voyages formal eulogies on the death of an Emperor or Empress and courting marriage planting and The 5 syllable 7 syllable 5 syllable haiku has evolved and been reinvented many times over the centuries One such form is the 31 syllable waka composed of five 5-7-5-7-7 syllable phrases Developed as the early imperial court of the late eighth century consolidated cultural social and political forms the waka took its place as one of the important regularized poetic forms of the period Within imperial circles minor officials and scribes gained recognition as poem-providers and word specialists due to their Nevertheless early Japanese poetry went beyond official usage In the 14th century an intellectual game developed where one person would write the first half of a waka-like poem and another would complete it adding the two 7-syllable stanzasAs many as four people took part in composing such poetry in what developed as a serious poetic form with many complicated rules to ensure that the elegant court-poetry diction and aesthetic ideals were maintained However in large social gatherings where Japanese rice wine or sake was often served participants became inebriated and started writing haikai comic linked verse which ignored many of the rules and allowed any subject matter at all from the truly crude and erotic to pure slapstick daffy comedy According to Dr Kerkham it was this lower-level poetic form which Matsunaga Teitoku haikai master tried to clean up and popularize and teach to his student Matsuo Basho 1644-1694 Bashos haiku written while travelling around Japan made him one of
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