A hokku is a form of haiku particularly prevalent in the poetry of Edo-period Japan (1603-1868), and perfected by Bashō Matsuo (1644-1694), considered the master of the form. Identical to the normal haiku in its strict 5-7-5 syllable format, it was traditionally presented as the first of a larger collection of poems to set the mood, and thus achieved a higher status. This elevation extended to poets spending a great deal more time on a hokku than other poems, and later led to the recognition of the hokku as a stand-alone work. The closest equivalent in English is the sonnet, with its set metrical structure that can be both part of a larger work and also a poem in its own right.
Duration: 3 Minutes 30 Seconds
Instrumentation: Double SATB Choir
Recorded February 2007, Amadeus Centre, Maida Vale, London; BBC Singers, Nicholas Kok (Cond.)