The old pond

Following are several translations
of the 'Old Pond' poem, which may be
the most famous of all haiku:

Furuike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

-- Basho



Literal Translation

Fu-ru (old) i-ke (pond) ya,
ka-wa-zu (frog) to-bi-ko-mu (jumping into)
mi-zu (water) no o-to (sound)


Translated by Fumiko Saisho



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


Translated by Robert Hass




The Nightingale

A Conversation Poem, April, 1798

No cloud, no relique of the sunken day
Distinguishes the West, no long thin slip
Of sullen light, no obscure trembling hues.
Come, we will rest on this old mossy bridge!
You see the glimmer of the stream beneath,
But hear no murmuring: it flows silently.
O'er its soft bed of verdure. All is still.
A balmy night! and though the stars be dim,
Yet let us think upon the vernal showers
That gladden the green earth, and we shall find
A pleasure in the dimness of the stars.


The Night

My voice that is for you the languid one, and gentle,
Disturbs the velvet of the dark night's mantle,
By my bedside, a candle, my sad guard,
Burns, and my poems ripple and merge in flood --
And run the streams of love, run, full of you alone,
And in the dark, your eyes shine like the precious stones,
And smile to me, and hear I the voice:
My friend, my sweetest friend... I love... I'm yours... I'm yours!


The Next Poem

How much better it seems now
than when it is finally done–
the unforgettable first line,
the cunning way the stanzas run.

The rhymes soft-spoken and suggestive
are barely audible at first,
an appetite not yet acknowledged
like the inkling of a thirst.

While gradually the form appears
as each line is coaxed aloud–
the architecture of a room
seen from the middle of a crowd.

The music that of common speech
but slanted so that each detail
sounds unexpected as a sharp


The Monument

Now can you see the monument? It is of wood
built somewhat like a box. No. Built
like several boxes in descending sizes
one above the other.
Each is turned half-way round so that
its corners point toward the sides
of the one below and the angles alternate.
Then on the topmost cube is set
a sort of fleur-de-lys of weathered wood,
long petals of board, pierced with odd holes,
four-sided, stiff, ecclesiastical.
From it four thin, warped poles spring out,
(slanted like fishing-poles or flag-poles)


the lost baby poem

the time i dropped your almost body down
down to meet the waters under the city
and run one with the sewage to the sea
what did i know about waters rushing back
what did i know about drowning
or being drowned

you would have been born in winter
in the year of the disconnected gas
and no car
we would have made the thin walk
over the genecy hill into the canada winds
to let you slip into a stranger's hands
if you were here i could tell you
these and some other things


The Left Bank

Don't walk away, Renee,
I'm just getting warmed up
your body is like a river
and I'm going to swim across
I want to explore the left
bank of you then the right
you're the only woman in
this room with a sunflower
in her hair and you take
forever in the bathroom
making me wait finally you
emerge with a bottle of beer
in one hand an ashtray in
the other and say, "Okay, when
do we start?" you're looking
good tonight Renee with about
twenty-five bracelets on your


The King of Yellow Butterflies

(A Poem Game.)


The King of Yellow Butterflies,
The King of Yellow Butterflies,
The King of Yellow Butterflies,
Now orders forth his men.
He says "The time is almost here
When violets bloom again."
Adown the road the fickle rout
Goes flashing proud and bold,
A down the road the fickle rout
Goes flashing proud and bold,
Adown the road the fickle rout
Goes flashing proud and bold,
They shiver by the shallow pools,
They shiver by the shallow pools,
They shiver by the shallow pools,


The Journey Of A Poem Compared To All The Sad Variety Of Travel

A poem moves forward,
Like the passages and percussions of trains in progress
A pattern of recurrence, a hammer of repetetiveoccurrence

a slow less and less heard
low thunder under all passengers

Steel sounds tripping and tripled and
Grinding, revolving, gripping, turning, and returning
as the flung carpet of the wide countryside spreads out on
each side in billows

And in isolation, rolled out, white house, red barn, squat silo,
Pasture, hill, meadow and woodland pasture


The House

This poem has a door, a locked door,
and curtains drawn against the day,
but at night the lights come on, one
in each room, and the neighbors swear
they hear music and the sound of dancing.
These days the neighbors will swear
to anything, but that is not why
the house is locked up and no one goes
in or out all day long; that is because
this is a poem first and a house only
at night when everyone should be asleep.
The milkman tries to stop at dawn,
for he has three frosty white bottles


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