…reading the many and varied books in my ‘To Be Read’ shelves. The latest one is an edited version of Leo Tolstoy’s marvelous anti-war Sevastopol Sketches which I see I bought in 1974!
All books yield up something worth recording and, apart from Tolstoy’s incisive anti-war rhetoric, this one gave me a ‘Found Haibun’.
A haibun is originally a Japanese literary form consisting of a piece of ‘poetic prose’ with a haiku tangentially related to its theme. The haiku should not just be a continuation of the prose subject but be a mirror of it in some way or a comment on it from another point of view. Bashō was a significant early expert at haibun with his Narrow Road to the Deep North. In recent years David Cobb and the late Ken Jones have been brilliant exponents.
In this ‘Found Haibun’ the poetic prose is entirely Tolstoy’s; the haiku is concocted from a paragraph elsewhere in the book.
Hundreds of bodies, drenched with fresh blood, of men who two hours before had been filled with various lofty or petty hopes and desires, now lay with stiffened limbs in the damp, flowery valley separating the bastion from the trench, and on the even floor of the mortuary chapel. Hundreds of men crawled, twisted, and groaned, with curses and entreaties on their dry lips, some among the corpses in the flowery valley, others on stretchers, cots, and on the bloody floor of the hospital.
every starlit night