Saturday, June 11, 2005

Warrior's Journal: Spring

A Haibun

The rain has been consistent, my darling. I have a thousand horse and ten thousand infantry, so the wet ground slows us. The first flowers now come up in the meadows, and the grass grows tall enough to brush the ankle. In our wake, though, there is only mud and trampled ground. We close in on the enemy's fortress now. There has been some fighting. The enemy tests our resolve, but we are strong enough of spirit, our warriors' blades sharp with the honor of their ancestors.

Hiroshi is healthy and in good spirits, but we talk rarely. His command of 1000 infantry keeps him occupied. I wish I could say that I would be back in your arms by the time the cherry blossoms fall, but I fear that the enemy's fortress will be well defended. Many men will lose their lives, much blood will be needlessly spilled. The oaths I've sworn to lord and land cannot be undone, so I must see through these endless marches, these trials of body and spirit. Know this, my love—when I see the petals of the lotus flower unmarred upon the still pool, I think of you.

May we leave this hill
innocent of our muddy
trail, unversed in war

6 comments:

Stranger Ken said...

Beautifully done, Firehawk. This absolutely catches the tone and sentiment!

swiftboat said...

I was not familiar with the Haibun style, but find it appealing. Reminds me of Ken Burns reading civil war letters. It's quite effective.

Firehawk said...

Ken,

Thanks. I felt it came out well. I liked the attached haiku as much as any I've done recently. I might continue on with this one, providing more of the story. Each Haibun will involve a new letter from the general to his beloved as the campaign (purely fictional, of course) progresses. Could be fun. I was thinking about how you could write a whole short story or novella in this way. Sure, it would be painstaking and labor-intensive, but it could be really beautiful.

Swiftboat,

The Haibun is just haiku poetry interspersed or punctuating a prose passage. It's often used as a travel-log. I decided to frame the prose segment as a letter a general in old Japan might write to his beloved when he's off at war. I'm glad this came out so clearly to you. Just another one of my experiments. As I said to Ken, I might try a series of them if I have the drive to do it.

Braleigh said...

Gah, yeah, I was going to comment on how a Haibun serves as such a stunning vehicle for historical accounts, whether fictional or non-fictional.

Awesome job.

Firehawk said...

Brales,

Thanks, kiddo. You're the best.

Paul Genesse said...

Pat,

So brilliant. I can easily see this as a poem written by Subotai in the future.

Paul