Audiophile Haiku

Written by Richard Murison

A haiku is a traditional Japanese form of poetry, although it is now appreciated worldwide. A Haiku comprises three lines of verse structured around a 5-7-5 pattern of syllables. The first and last lines have 5 syllables, while the middle line has 7. A traditional haiku usually expresses a simple emotion, or an observation of nature, appeals to the senses, and contains a ‘trigger’ word which suggests a season of the year. In more modern haiku, the last line often makes its point by taking the subject matter in an ironic or unexpected direction. It is traditional to write a haiku in the middle of the page, forming a diamond pattern (since the middle line has two more syllables), although they are intended to be spoken rather than read. Japanese culture places great emphasis not only on tradition, but also on elegance, so a good Japanese haiku will have a perfect rhythmic meter, while making a profound and uplifting observation, all in 17 syllables.

Haiku do not rhyme, but instead rely on a rhythmic meter. Consequently, English translations of Japanese haiku rarely deliver a complete rendition of all aspects of the original, and original English haiku tend to be more ready to depart from the strict form in order to better express the point.

I have prepared a brief collection of audiophile haiku for your reading pleasure (or derision, however it ends up working out). One or two are pretty cool, others, as you’ll see, less so.  Still others descend close to parody. Japanese readers, if any, are advised to set their expectations to the lowest available setting.

Vacuum tubes glow red
warming my hands. While music
is warming my heart.

His wallet costs more
than the money he keeps there.
So too his Hi-Fi.

Silk tweeter.
Smaller than a woofer driver.
Size isn’t everything.

Kind spirit,
living in my cables,
blessing the sounds as they go by.

Have you no shame, sir?
Insult my clothes or my car,
but not my speakers!


Listen to silence.
Know that music is more than
the sum of its sounds.

CD – eighty grams.
Amplifier – eighty pounds.
Music floats on air.

So many bits.
So much music. So little time
to waste arguing.

Seasons turn.
With spring comes the season for change.
New preamp maybe?

If music soothes the
savage beast, how savage would
I be without it?

I am transported
each time I close my eyes and
hear a different place.

It was a dark day,
heavy with foreboding too,
when my tubes burned out.


Winter in Boulder,
cold and white with snow. But Leebs
is from Florida.

I agree with Keats.
Books, French wine, good weather, fruit.
Yes, and music too.

Negative feedback
won’t damp the differences
that still divide us.

I can’t describe the
depths of my emotions. But
Gustav Mahler can.

All good things must pass,
and we must pass with them. But
let it wait a while.

[Leebs grew up in Minnesota, for whatever that’s worth—Ed.]

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