Hello everyone!  It is Haibun Monday – again!  For those of you in the US, I hope you had a grand Thanksgiving.  Indeed, we should all be grateful, everyday, for everything with which we are blessed and given.  Whether in the US or Sweden or Australia, we should all be thankful.

That being said, today is a Free For All…meaning, you pick the subject upon which you wish to write.  There are rules of course – (1) The haibun must be non-fiction (2) The occurance must have actually happened to you (3) You are to write one to two tight paragraphs and (4) End it with a season based haiku.

I would like to share with you a couple of Basho’s haibun from his most famous trip,Oku no Hosomichi (奥の細道, The Narrow Road to the Deep North or The Narrow Road to the Interior.  In one of the haibun, you will note that there is a paragraph and haiku and then more writing and a haiku.  You will also note that the translation of the haiku goes to four or more lines in English. You will need to write the haiku in classic form of three lines but you can do a paragraph and haiku and another paragraph and haiku to end it.  Enjoy!

Station 8 – Unganji
There was a Zen temple called Unganji in this province. The priest Buccho used to live in isolation in the mountains behind the temple. He once told me that he had written the following poem on the rock of his hermitage with the charcoal he had made from pine.
This grassy hermitage,
Hardly any more
Than five feet square,
I would gladly quit
But for the rain.
A group of young people accompanied me to the temple. they talked so cheerfully along the way that I reached it before I knew it. The temple was situated on the side of a mountain completely covered with dark cedars and pines. A narrow road trailed up the valley, between banks of dripping moss, leading us to the gate of the temple across a bridge. The air was still cold, though it was April.
I went behind the temple to see the remains of the priest Buccho’s hermitage. It was a tiny hut propped against the base of a huge rock. I felt as if I was in the presence of the Priest Genmyo’s cell or the Priest Houn’s retreat. I hung on a wooden pillar of the cottage the following poem which I wrote impromptu.
Even the woodpeckers
Have left it untouched,
This tiny cottage
In a summer grove

Station 18 – Sendai

Crossing the River Natori, I entered the city of Sendai on May the fourth, the day we customarily throw fresh leaves of iris on the roof and pray for good health. I found an inn, and decided to stay there for several days. There was in this city a painter named Kaemon. I made special efforts to meet him, for he was reputed to be a man with a truly artistic mind. One day he took me to various places of interest which I might have missed but for his assistance. We first went to the plain of Miyagino, where fields of bush-clover were waiting to blossom in autumn. The hills of Tamada, Yokono, and Tsutsuji-ga-oka were covered with white rhododendrons in bloom. Then we went into the dark pine woods called Konoshita where even the beams of the sun could not penetrate. This darkest spot on the earth had often been the subject of poetry because of its dewiness – for example, one poet says that his lord needs an umbrella to protect him from the drops of dew when he enters it. We also stopped at the shrines of Yakushido and Tenjin on our way home. When the time came for us to say good-bye, this painter gave me his own drawings of Matsushima and Shiogama and two pairs of straw sandals with laces dyed in the deep blue of the iris. In this last appears most clearly perhaps the true artistic nature of this man.

It looks as if
Iris flowers had bloomed
On my feet —
Sandals laced in blue

So! If you have not played with us before at dVerse Poets Pub or, if you have, here are the rest of the rules:

If you are new to dVerse, here is how it works:

  • Write a haibun and copy and paste the direct link to your poem into Mr.Linky.
  • Drop into the pub, take a seat, relax, say hello.
  • Visit other poets and comment on their work. Return again later in the week to read more.

About Toni Spencer (kanzensakura, hayesspencer) has been reading, writing, and studying Japanese poetic forms for 40+ years and is still learning.