Haibun Road : a haibun weekly challenge (wk 8)

This week’s Basho’s Road Haibun Challenge (week 8)

A haibun is one paragraph followed by one haiku. This week we start the journey with Basho’s tenth paragraph with a haiku (my paragraph numbering changes with the translation as the number of paragraphs depends on the translations –surprised me too!). Use any bit (word, phrase, concept) as the inspiration of your own haibun (one paragraph and a haibun). To participate pingback or paste your haibun link in the comments and tag your contribution “Haibun Road.”

David Landis Barnhill translated the haiku by Sora this time and tenth paragraph (Basho’s Journey: The Literary Prose of Matsuo Basho) :

I know someone in a place called Kurobane in Nasu, and I decided to take a short cut from Nikko straight across the broad plain. We happened to notice a village in the distance as rain began to fall and the sun set. Lodging for a night at a farmer’s house, at daybreak we headed off again over the plain. A horse stood grazing in a field. We sought assistance from a man cutting grass and though he was a rustic, he was not without compassion. “Hmm, let’s see here. The plain is criss-crossed with trails and somebody unfamiliar with the right way is bound to get lost — that’s a real problem — say, why don’t you take this horse as far as he’ll go and just send him back,” and he lent us the horse. Two children came running along behind the horse.  One was a little girl named Kasane, a truly elegant name I’d never heard before.
kasane to wa
yaenadeshiko no
na narubeshi

(Sora’s haiku)

“Kasane” —
must be a name for
a double-petalled pink

Footnote on this passage by Barnhill : “Kasane means ‘multi-layered.’ Yae, ‘eight-fold,’ is the term used for double-petal flowers, while nadeshiko is the term for wild pinks, a flower associated with girls.  There is no ‘double-petal pink’ plant”

Other translations of the same haiku by Sora. (translator in parenthesis)

Kasane must be
a name for a wild pink
with double petals
(Helen Craig McCullough)
Classical Japanese Prose: An Anthology
Kasane Must be
another name for
“eight-fold” pink
(Hiroaki Sato)
Basho’s Narrow Road: Spring and Autumn Passages (Rock Spring Collection of Japanese Literature)
If your name, Kasane,
means manifold
how befitting it is also
for a double-flowered pink
(Nobuyuki Yuasa)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches

I am surprised that no one mentioned the “eightfold path” of Buddhism. Maybe I’m wrong but since just became a monk at the beginning of this journey with the symbolic act of cutting off his hair, I think his writing a haiku of a flower that has a meaning of ‘eight-fold’ might be significant.

Haibun Challenge parameters

There is no right or wrong although there are a couple rules.

  • One paragraph followed by one haiku/senryu.
  • Paragraphs can be short or long (but please don’t make one paragraph book length!)
  • Haiku/senryu should be 5/7/5 syllables or pretty close. 3, 5 and 7 are numbers with special meaning in Japanese culture so that’s probably how the form arose.
  • To share what you’ve written, add a pingback or paste your link in the comments and tag your post “haibun road”. My blog is moderated due to spam and to avoid people’s contribution ending up in the spam folder. Your link may not show up right away but should show up within 24 hours. I will check regularly for pingbacks/comments but I have a real life too so be patient please.

Each week I do a round up of everyone’s contributions. I post this on Mondays (late Mondays, not early! so look for it in the evenings Arizona time between 11pm and midnight. I am not a morning person. ). I was going to do it on Saturdays but it turns out it’s not a good evening for me. The writing prompt is for the week, so that you’ll have a week to come up with a haibun.

I’ll write a haibun for this challenge too tomorrow. I figure why write haibun alone? It’s always more fun to share a journey with companions.I hope you will join me and look forward to your writing.

Basho’s Journey: The Literary Prose of Matsuo Basho

What is a haibun?

A haibun is a short prose paragraph followed by a haiku/senryu. The paragraph can be one’s thoughts, a travel journal, a diary entry, an essay or even a short story. Basho, a monk in Japan, wrote the first haibun in 1690. I liken it to impressionism: it’s something you capture in the moment through writing, fleeting as the moment changes, imperfect but authentic.

I’m inviting you to write a short paragraph and a haiku inspired by the prompt. The inspiration may be a word, a phrase, a sentence or the whole paragraph from the prompt. One person might take “time to sweep the cobwebs from my broken house” and write about an abandoned building.
Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900 (Abridged Edition) (Translations from the Asian Classics (Paperback))

Classical Japanese Prose: An Anthology
Another person may be inspired by the haiku. Another person may take the word “rambling” to describe their most recent travel. Go with whatever inspires you.

In case you are interested this is a audio reading from Basho’s “Narrow Road to the North” in Japanese by kaseumin (first audio of 5; Chapters 1 thru 9) made available through the Gutenberg Project


Matsuo Bashô: Oku no Hosomichi (Nine Translations of the Opening Paragraph), Bureau of Public Secrets

Narrow Road to the Interior: And Other Writings (Shambhala Classics) (translator Sam Hamill)

Basho’s Journey: The Literary Prose of Matsuo Basho (translator David Landis Barnhill )

Classical Japanese Prose: An Anthology (translator: Helen Craig McCullough)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (translator Nobuyuki Yuasa)

Basho’s Narrow Road: Spring and Autumn Passages (Rock Spring Collection of Japanese Literature) (translator: Hiroaki Sato)

Links are to the books on Amazon (I’m an affiliate but it’s also easy to find book titles there).

You can use the Amazon search bar to do any search at Amazon. As I thought the translated “eightfold path” is significant, I used it as the search term.

Amazon disclosure: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.” Your price remains the same.