A haibun is a poetic form that originated during 17th Century in Japan as a combination of two poems: a prose poem and haiku. The form was popularized by poet Matsuo Basho. In the haibun, the prose paper of the poem and haiku typically communicate with each other, though poets employ different strategies for this communication.
The prose part of the poem usually describes a scene or moment in an objective manner. Meanwhile, the haiku portion follows the typical rules for haiku.
Here is my attempt at a haibun poem:
The hip bone is a large flat bone, constricted in the center and expanded above and below. The two hip bones are part of the pelvic girdle that attach the axial skeleton to the lower limbs.
Osteoarthritis can occur in the hips. The warning signs of osteoarthritis are:
- Stiffness in a joint after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time
- Swelling or tenderness in one or more joints
- A crunching feeling or the sound of bone rubbing on bone.
Arthritis in hips
Has been fixed with a “stand-in”
Such a hip-stir!
Thunderstorms this summer have been exceptionally violent. High humidity has contributed to large clouds roiling with different shades of grey-black mixed with a sickly green. During one storm this week, I visualized the a line from W.B. Yeats An Irish Airman Foresees His Death-” drove to this tumult in the clouds” as the thunder cracked around me.
A summer thunderstorm echoes like the sound of a aerial dogfight, something the young Irish Airman in the poem might have experienced in the First World War. The poem is not about a dogfight, however, and the poem is not limited to WWI either.
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
When I teach the poem to the English II class, there is always one student who picks out the real reason the Irish Airman is flying a plane. That student understands “the lonely impulse of delight” of a young man who would take enlist in war simply to fly an airplane.
“He’s got a need for speed,” the student will say.
“That’s it,” I will agree.
Yeat’s lead-footed youth, flying “somewhere among the clouds above,” shares a reckless abandon with many of my students. They do not read the poem as tragic, but read this as an explanation of a choice: “He craves excitement!”
The sounds of a summer thunderstorm generates a very different kind of excitement altogether, but the tumult looks the same.