Publication details [#2635]

Blasko, Dawn G. and Dennis W. Merski. 1999. Haiku: When goodness entails symbolism. Metaphor and Symbol 14 (2) : 123–138. 16 pp.


Haiku is a form of traditional Japanese poetry that is popular worldwide. We examined college students' comprehension and interpretation of 117 haiku written by poets with different levels of expertise. Participants also completed a creative experience questionnaire and a multimedia comprehension battery. Each haiku was rated on 5 dimensions: ease of comprehension, familiarity, goodness, imagery, and symbolism. Results paralleled work on figurative language in that imagery, familiarity, and ease of comprehension predicted haiku goodness. High- and low-skilled comprehenders did not differ in their ratings of the poems. However, high-skilled comprehenders had significantly better quality interpretations and reacted distinctively to the symbolism dimension. Among leafless trees too many thoughts in my head. (David Elliot)