Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Civil War Haiku

It was very sneaky for the Blogathon "moderator" to have several "theme days" that Blogathoners could participate in, if they wanted to.  One of the theme days (today, May 10) has the theme of Haiku poetry.  What I've found is that that haiku is a "crash course" in writing, in general.   Also, in leaving your comfort zone.

Leaving your comfort zone is oh-so-important for people approaching 60, because otherwise your brain glitches and starts to sputter.  "Use it or lose it."

Until this week, I hadn't written a haiku in, oh, almost 40 years. I went through a "period" when I was around 13.  I would stay up nights, listen to WABC radio (a top 40 station in NYC), and write my heart out.

What did I like about haiku back then?  I liked the structure.  The 5-7-5 syllable construction forced my sometimes chaotic thoughts into a kind of discipline.  In a personal world that to me was in danger of breaking apart under the stresses of puberty and junior high (now called middle school), it was just what I needed.

What I am trying here is not classical haiku.  I've been reading up on haiku in the past few days, and it is fascinating. (noting here that I am not a fan, in general, of poetry.)  When you try to translate a poetic form from another language and another culture into American English...it is a much harder job than you would think.  I'm not even going to try.

Readers of this blog know that I have a love for history, and have been "getting into" the Civil War in this, the 150th anniversary year of its beginning. So, I am going to try to describe the period from just before the election of Lincoln in 1860 to the Battle of First Bull Run (First Manassas, as it is known in the former Confederate states) in July of 1861.  (Historians, please don't hate me.  This is very shallow, and I know it reads like a Classics Illustrated version of the start of the Civil War, but I'm trying to do something pretty new to me.)

The one thing I need to explain is that Lincoln was not on the ballot in a lot of the Southern states in the 1860 election.  It was quite well known that a number of states were planning to secede if he was elected. Once war began with the shelling of Ft. Sumter in Charleston Harbor, many people thought the war would be over in 90 days or less.

And now, the haiku (accompanied by a couple of photos from my March, 2011 visit to Charleston.)

Storm clouds gathering
States want to leave the Union
Election winds blow.

Lincoln off ballot
Is elected regardless
States gather to leave

To Charleston they come
Confederacy is born
Will it be war?



Ft. Sumter is shelled
Union surrenders the fort
Cherry blossoms bloom


Both sides mobilize
The 90 day war begins
Then they'll all go home

War is just a game
As troops march to Bull Run Creek
Cicadas and heat

One thousand troops die
Brothers fight families split
War will last for years

Just don't ask me to write Civil War Haiku ever, ever again.  I'm exhausted!

6 comments:

  1. Exhausted, perhaps, but what an interesting exercise!

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  2. Your Civil War haiku is impressive. It brought back memories of Ken Burns' Civil War documentary that PBS recently ran again. My husband and I have also had the privilege of visiting Ft. Sumpter. In addition to the remains of the fort on the far side of the harbor, the visitors center there is very impressive.

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  3. That was awesome! You captured the imagery and feelings of the people of the South so well in your Haiku's. The residents of Charleston still hold on to the fierceness of what would become the war of all wars, starting with the first shots at Fort Sumter.

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  4. I am a Civil War buff, who really enjoyed your poems. Very creative...and insightful of that monumental period in our history. Have you read April 1865: The Month that Saved America?

    Good luck to you from a fellow Blogathoner.

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  5. This is a comment I found in my email. When I try to post it Blogger says it "no longer exists". I am posting it; it looks like it is coming from me but it's not. Unfortunately, the link to "The Wordsmith" does not carry over.

    The Wordsmith has left a new comment on your post "Civil War Haiku":

    I am a Civil War buff, who really enjoyed your poems. Very creative...and insightful of that monumental period in our history. Have you read April 1865: The Month that Saved America?

    Good luck to you from a fellow Blogathoner.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi i loved this

    ReplyDelete

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