A Haiku Mora Would Smell as Sweet

I have done some more studying of Haiku. The more I study the more confused I get. In the English language, we tend to measure words by syllables. The Japanese use moras. As Haiku is a Japanese poetry form, it would seem to make sense to use moras; therefore, instead of three lines consisting, in turn, of five syllables, seven syllables and five syllables, it should be five moras, seven moras and five moras.

I am having a difficult time figuring out exactly what a Mora is. It appears pretty simple if one is writing in Japanese, something I am about a lifetime away from doing. So far, the best conversion I have come across indicates that words with long vowel sounds receive two mora measures for each long vowel. “Hello” would be three moras. “Hell” would be the first mora, “o” would be the second mora, and because “o” is pronounced as a long-o, it gets a third mora.
In practice, it would destroy a Haiku in English like this:

Again the cold rain
Kisses the love-hungry rose.
Fresh aromas rise.

This might (or might not in my case) be a passable English Haiku, but not so in Japanese. The syllable counts for the above lines are 5/7/5 (so far so good), but for Japanese moras, the count would be 7/8/7 because of the long-o in “cold” and the long-a in “rain” of the first line; the long-o in “rose” in the second line; and the long-o in “aromas” and the long-i in “rise” of the third line.

I have absolutely no idea if any part of what I just wrote about moras is correct. Can anyone out there help me? So much study, so little time.

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2 Responses to A Haiku Mora Would Smell as Sweet

  1. pmwanken says:

    I’m with you, Mike….I still have “mora” to learn!

    Meanwhile…I’ve tried simply to stick with the 5-7-5 syllabic pattern.

  2. Mike Patrick says:

    I think one needs to be able to read in Japanese to use moras.

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