National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month in the U.S., so let’s learn about haiku, which is a traditional Japanese short poem form. Here’s an example by the haiku master Basho:

A haiku has three lines with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line. It also usually includes words that are connected to Nature and philosophy and has some sort of small surprise.

Since the original frog haiku is in Japanese, there are many ways to translate it. Here are 30 below:

The original Japanese:


Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

An old pond —
The sound
Of a diving frog.

Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Pond, there, still and old!
A frog has jumped from the shore.
The splash can be heard.

Translated by Eli Siegel

old pond
frog leaping

Translated by Cid Corman

The old pond,
A frog jumps in:

Translated by Alan Watts

Breaking the silence
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water —
A deep resonance.

Translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa

The old pond
A frog jumped in,

Translated by Allen Ginsberg

Listen! a frog
Jumping into the stillness
Of an ancient pond!

Translated by Dorothy Britton

Old pond
leap — splash
a frog.

Translated by Lucien Stryk

The old pond —
a frog jumps in,
sound of water.

Translated by Robert Hass

At the ancient pond
a frog plunges into
the sound of water

Translated by Sam Hamill

ancient is the pond —
suddenly a frog leaps — now!
the water echoes

Translated by Tim Chilcott


Translated by James Kirkup
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