sight & sound

Basho is best known for the frog pond haiku.

Old pond —
a frog jumps in,
the sound of water
(transl. by Stephen Addiss)

Sometimes that last line is not so obvious; it may just state: Plop!

Over the centuries, there have been a number of variations from the seriously imitative to the respectfully extended to the sweetly sublime.  I particularly like Stephen’s quirky eco-zen contribution:

Old pond paved over
into a parking lot —
one frog still singing

Whatever the version, this haiku tantalizes me.  I know there’s likely nothing to “get” yet I try anytime I’m around ponds, frogs, or combination of both to be one with the sound of that Plop!  Of course, it’s never happened – well, I think it did once… but then I talked about it and … no Plop!… just poof!  It ends up being one of those damnable koans or verse #1 of the Tao Te Ching.  The frog’s plop that can be spoken is not a Plop!

In the years of sitting with frogs, like frogs, for frogs, I realize I have a number of photographs of my slippery friends (who are actually toads).  Nevertheless, like Issa and his frog, we may have come to terms with how to deal with Basho (from The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson & Issa, edited by Robert Hass).


A huge frog and I,
staring at each other,
neither of us moves.


Thank you for practising,


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