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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Make the Sparkle Continue

Here’s a video of Liang Tung reading her poem “Life Is Art” at the Immigrant Poets of New York program. You can also read it below:

Life is Art

Liang Tung

Life is art

Don’t lock us inside

Let us go out

Life is art

New places

Have a fresh start

Life is art

Through time

Make it grow

Life is art

It can be attractive

Or dull, dull

Life is art

Keep progressing

Cheerful dreams come true

Life is art

It is created by you

And I

Life is art

Out of suffering

You feel appreciation

Life is art

Crafty hands

Make it shine

Life is art

Brighten yourself

And others

Life is art

Make the sparkle continue

Light precious life bright

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Cheer Up Old Fellows!


Watch above and read below Pei Lin Yu’s poem from Immigrant Poets in New York:

Old Age

Pei Lin Yu

Time flies fast

From infancy to old age in a blink of an eye

Don’t cry about getting old

Don’t worry about unknown futures

Enjoy everyday of the rest of your life

Old age is called the golden age

Old age is the tree covered with colorful flowers

Old age is as beautiful as the sunset

Old age is full of knowledge and wisdom

Old age is the way to heaven

Cheer up

Cheer up old fellows!


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Two More Summer Poems

From Poetry:

I Know I Am But Summer to Your Heart

Edna St. Vincent Millary

I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of spring.

Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.


Carl Sandburg

Back Yard

Carl Sandburg

Shine on, O moon of summer.
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,
All silver under your rain to-night.

An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion.
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;
to-night they are throwing you kisses.

An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a
cherry tree in his back yard.

The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking
white thoughts you rain down.

Shine on, O moon,
Shake out more and more silver changes.


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