Kyoku (a kind of humorous haikai without haikai conventions) (狂句)

Kyoku is one type of fixed form verse which developed in the latter half of the early-modern period in Japan.

Originally, kyoku were the same as senryu (humorous or ironical haiku), but after the death of Senryu the first (a poet), and during the time of Senryu the fourth, poems in the Senryu style were named 'haifu kyoku'. Before the Tenpo era, they were commonly a witty verse consisting of five, seven, and seven lines, but after the Tenpo Reforms their contents were often depraved. Senryu MIZUTANI the fifth created 'ryufu shikiho' (the rules of senryu), which determined what was acceptable and unacceptable to express in a poem. However, this rule limited the variations of these poems, and the contents suffered, so poets began to compete to create the most superficial expression. Senryu the fifth changed the name 'haifu kyoku' into 'ryufu kyoku,' and the poetry of senryu survived the adversities of the Tempo Reforms, as literature, though, it had declined significantly.

It continued to be called 'senryu,' 'senryufu kyoku,' or 'senryu kyoku' until the Meiji period, as it was kyoku composed by the members whose master was Senryu; this differentiated kyoku from other zappai (playful literature originating from haiku).

Even after the Meiji period, kyoku flourished under the nationwide organization called Ryufukai. However, by 1902 it was in a weaker position due to reform movements by the new senryu, and, declining little by little, it continued until the time of Senryu the 13th in the Showa period, when it lost its influence completely.

[Original Japanese]