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Hello Poets! Today is Haibun Monday, where we write that prose/haiku hybrid poetry Basho invented and Haijin throughout the world made famous. I am Frank J. Tassone, your host, and today I invite you to reflect on the importance of memorial.

Photo by Michael Skok on Unsplash

Today, The United States celebrates Memorial Day. This holiday originated as Decoration Day, a commemoration for those that died during the American Civil War (1861-1865). After several decades (and at least five wars), Congress, in 1968, established the last Monday in May as Memorial Day. This federal holiday now honors all members of the military that made the ultimate sacrifice. While such remembrance is important, there is a broader meaning of memorial we would do well to consider.

What is worth remembering? Why are some events so important that we need to memorialize them, while others we can let slip away? How do we truly honor whom, or what, we want to remember?

Using this broad lens of memorial, write a haibun that alludes to the concept of memorial in some way.  For those new to haibun, the form consists of one to a few paragraphs of prose—usually written in the present tense—that evoke an experience and are often non-fictional/autobiographical. They are followed (or preceded) by haiku—nature-based, with a seasonal image—that complement, without directly repeating, what the prose has stated.

Basho himself offers a compelling example from his masterpiece, the Narrow Road to the Interior:

Here (Hiraizumi) three generations of the Fujiwara clan passed as though in a dream. The great outer gates lay in ruins. Where Hidehira’s manor stood, rice fields grow. Only Mount Kinkei remained. I climbed the hill where Yoshitsune died; I saw the Kitakami, a broad stream flowing down through the Nambu Plain, the Koromo River circling Isumi Castle below the hill before joining the Kitakami. The ancient ruins of Yasuhira—from the end of the Golden Era—lie out beyond the Koromo Barrier, where they stood guard against the Ainu people. The faithful elite remained baoud to the vastle—for all their valor, reduced to ordinary grass…

We sat a while, our hats for a seat, seeing it all through tears.

Summer grasses
All that remains of great soldiers’
Imperial dreams

–Basho. “The Essential Basho” (Samuel Hamill, Translator). 1999, Shambhala, pg. 18-19

New to dVerse? Here’s what you do:

  • Write a haibun that references memorial as described above
  • Post it on your personal site/blog
  • Copy your link onto the Mr. Linky
  • Remember to click the small checkbox about data protection.
  • Read and comment on some of your fellow poets’ work
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so

Have fun!