Contents of the HAIKU.DOC file
DOCUMENTATION FOR HAIKU.EXE
NOT Copyright 1987, Charles Frankle Version 2.1, 4 December 1987
This program is hereby placed in the public domain, to be used
for whatever amusement it may produce. The author will not be
liable for boredom, epithets or other human reaction to the
output of this program, but will take credit for whatever smiles
it may generate.
If it destroys your most valued database, or causes your machine
to smoke, vibrate or blow up, you are at liberty to sue me. I
include this statement because I am very bored with reading all
the boilerplate disclaimers placed on 'serious' programs (and
some 'not-so-serious', as well). Such disclaimers have, in my
biased view, as much value in protection against law suits as
placing a bumper sticker on your car, saying "I'm really a very
nice person...please don't sue me".
The Haiku is an ancient poetic form, first developed in Japan
about four centuries ago. Some scholars suggest it is the
most popular form of poetry in the world.
Traditionally, the Haiku requires a very strict form,
consisting of three lines, with five syllables in the first line,
seven in the second line and five in the third.
The desire of the Haiku poet is to sense the essence of a moment,
deeply felt and universal, and to express that moment within the
strict confines of the Haiku form. It is common to use images of
nature to represent the feelings and behaviors of people.
Modern (and western) forms of the Haiku rarely fit the traditional
5-7-5 pattern, for a number of reasons. The 5-7-5 pattern was
based on the Japanese JION, or syllable-sound. These rarely match
the syllables of English. In addition, over the years variations
have been developed, which, although they modify the traditional
form, retain the essential spirit of the Haiku and permit it to
be adapted to English and other Western languages. Thus, you will
not often find a Haiku generated by this program that matches the
I wrote this program about 10 years ago, in PL/I on a mainframe.
It was one of a set of programs designed to demonstrate that the
computer is capable of more than number crunching and COBOL
accounting and payroll programs. At the time, there were few
other uses in the commercial world. User interfaces had not
advanced very far, and personal computers were considered toys
for hobbiests, not worthy of serious application. This program
by itself changed no minds, but it did help to illustrate that
other things could be done. In looking over my old notebooks,
I discovered the original PL/I listing, and used it as an
exercize in testing out Borland's Turbo Pascal 4.0 compiler.
I find it interesting that the program runs much faster on my
XT clone than it did on the huge IBM mainframe it was written on.
The program uses a dictionary of 'poetic' words, contained in the
file HAIKU.DAT. These words are listed in a specific order, and
the order cannot be changed. If you wish to experiment with
different sets of words, just make sure that you only CHANGE a
given word...do not add or delete any. Also, you wil want to
keep similar parts of speech together. That is, if you wish to
work with a new set of nouns, change one or more of the nouns
in the list, but do not add words to the beginning or end of the
You'll notice that the words are ordered like this:
Articles, Adjectives, Nouns, Verbs, Prepositions.
The program expects to find each class of word where it currently
resides in the list. If you change this, you'll produce curious,
if not ugly, results.
Do not expect the program to produce a sensible poem each time.
It cannot tell that certain word combinations do not produce
sensible patterns in English. It is, however, interesting that
so many of the poems produced do have a kind of meaning, and some
few can even be considered beautiful little capsules of emotion.
There are only two control keys for this program. At the opening
screen, press any key to produce a poem...press Q to quit.
If it brings you some small amusement, it will have served its
purpose. The source code will be made available, upon your
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