Welcome, poets, to another Haibun Monday, where we blend prose and haiku together to form that famous Japanese poetic form! I am Frank Tassone, your host, and today, I want us to focus our attention on the calendar.
Let’s talk about August!
August is the eighth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and the fifth of seven months to have a length of 31 days. Its zodiac sign is Leo and was originally named Sextilis in Latin because it was the sixth month in the original ten-month Roman calendar under Romulus in 753 BC, with March being the first month of the year. About 700 BC, it became the eighth month when January and February were added to the year before March by King Numa Pompilius, who also gave it 29 days. Julius Caesar added two days when he created the Julian calendar in 46 BC (708 AUC), giving it its modern length of 31 days. In 8 BC, it was renamed in honor of Emperor Augustus. According to a Senatus consultum quoted by Macrobius, he chose this month because it was the time of several of his great triumphs, including the conquest of Egypt.
In the Southern Hemisphere, August is the seasonal equivalent of February in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, August falls in the season of summer. In the Southern Hemisphere, the month falls during the season of winter. In many European countries, August is the holiday month for most workers. Numerous religious holidays occurred during August in ancient Rome.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August
This eighth month of the calendar also begins Autumn, according to the traditional (lunar) calendar of many societies, particularly Japan. The beginning of the month there also includes the somber memorials of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In much of western Europe, however, the month is also when many take their vacations. Many European nations also experience their peaks of tourism then. While it also remains a popular vacation month for certain parts of the United States, August marks the beginning of school in states such as Florida, and in universities like SUNY.
Although the first half of August may continue that hot, humid weather characterizing the “dog days of summer” (in the northern hemisphere!), the gradual cooling that foreshadows Autumn begins during the latter half of the month.
August has moved the muses of more than a few poets:
Algernon Charles Swinburne – 1837-1909
on the bough,
Half gold half red, that one might know
The blood was ripe inside the core;
The colour of the leaves was more
Like stems of yellow corn that grow
Through all the gold June meadow’s floor.
The warm smell of the fruit was good
To feed on, and the split green wood,
With all its bearded lips and stains
Of mosses in the cloven veins,
Most pleasant, if one lay or stood
In sunshine or in happy rains.
There were four apples on the tree,
Red stained through gold, that all might see
The sun went warm from core to rind;
The green leaves made the summer blind
In that soft place they kept for me
With golden apples shut behind.
The leaves caught gold across the sun,
And where the bluest air begun,
Thirsted for song to help the heat;
As I to feel my lady’s feet
Draw close before the day were done;
Both lips grew dry with dreams of it.
In the mute August afternoon
They trembled to some undertune
Of music in the silver air;
Great pleasure was it to be there
Till green turned duskier and the moon
Coloured the corn-sheaves like gold hair.
That August time it was delight
To watch the red moons wane to white
’Twixt grey seamed stems of apple-trees;
A sense of heavy harmonies
Grew on the growth of patient night,
More sweet than shapen music is.
But some three hours before the moon
The air, still eager from the noon,
Flagged after heat, not wholly dead;
Against the stem I leant my head;
The colour soothed me like a tune,
Green leaves all round the gold and red.
I lay there till the warm smell grew
More sharp, when flecks of yellow dew
Between the round ripe leaves had blurred
The rind with stain and wet; I heard
A wind that blew and breathed and blew,
Too weak to alter its one word.
The wet leaves next the gentle fruit
Felt smoother, and the brown tree-root
Felt the mould warmer: I too felt
(As water feels the slow gold melt
Right through it when the day burns mute)
The peace of time wherein love dwelt.
There were four apples on the tree,This poem is in the public domain.
Gold stained on red that all might see
The sweet blood filled them to the core:
The colour of her hair is more
Like stems of fair faint gold, that be
Mown from the harvest’s middle floor.
No wind, no bird. The river flames like brass.This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 22, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
On either side, smitten as with a spell
Of silence, brood the fields. In the deep grass,
Edging the dusty roads, lie as they fell
Handfuls of shriveled leaves from tree and bush.
But ’long the orchard fence and at the gate,
Thrusting their saffron torches through the hush,
Wild lilies blaze, and bees hum soon and late.
Rust-colored the tall straggling briar, not one
Rose left. The spider sets its loom up there
Close to the roots, and spins out in the sun
A silken web from twig to twig. The air
Is full of hot rank scents. Upon the hill
Drifts the noon’s single cloud, white, glaring, still.
See, a hand sweeps stars
from the August sky,
as if my mother swept off the supper crumbs from the table at home.
Her apron, slipping now and then, smells of parsley
The sweet scent of her long-gone garden
sending me to sleep beside you tonight again.From Before and After the Fall by Sandor Csoori, translated from the Hungarian by Len Roberts. Copyright © 2004 by BOA Editions, Ltd. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. All rights reserved.
Whatever inspires you about this month—the namesake of Augustus, the solemn memorials to inhumanity and survival, madcap vacationing in sultry weather, or traditional Autumn—write a haibun alluding to August.
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 may be preceded or followed by one or more haiku—nature-based, using a seasonal image—that complement without directly repeating what the prose stated.
New to dVerse? Here is what you do:
- Write a haibun that includes, states, or references August.
- Post it on your personal site/blog.
- Include a link back to dVerse in your post.
- 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.