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Basho haiku translation question

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  • Emma Kolstad Antunes
    Greetings all! I know Basho is just outside of period, but I was hoping you all could help me find a specific translation of his famous frog poem. I wanted to
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 21, 2001
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      Greetings all!

      I know Basho is just outside of period, but I was hoping you all could help me find a specific translation of his famous frog poem.

      I wanted to give my lord a book of haiku for Christmas, but alas, I didn't realize that the one I ordered from Amazon was not the translation I wanted. (I ordered "The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa" by Robert Hass, before I knew better)

      Here's the Japanese:

      Furu ike ya
      Kawazu tobikomu
      Mizu no oto.

      I don't care for those translations that render the last line as "sound of water" - I'm looking for "splash," which I find closer in spirit to the original. I could translate it myself, but the point is to find a book on haiku. If I like the version of this poem by a particular translator, I'm more likely to enjoy the rest of the work.

      One version I've found that I like is
      "An old pond/ a frog jumps in/ splash!"
      However, I don't know who the translator is.(Things online are so rarely attributed!)

      Here are the translations I've found so far:

      old pond.....
      a frog leaps in
      water's sound
      ---- translated by William J. Higginson

      Into the old pond
      a frog jumped
      with a splash
      ----- translated by Kimiyo Tanaka

      The old pond---
      a frog jumps in,
      sound of water.
      ---- translated by Robert Hass

      Do you all know where I could find a translation that's more to my taste, or have any favorite books of haiku you'd recommend? I really appreciate the help!

      Thanks!
      Emma

      --
      Emma Kolstad Antunes
      eantunes@...
      http://www.rpg.net/emma/
    • Anthony J. Bryant
      ... But the original *is* the sound of water, not splash or kerplop or bawoosh. Basho probably could have used the Japanese hanekashi (splash) or one
      Message 2 of 4 , Dec 21, 2001
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        Emma Kolstad Antunes wrote:

        > Greetings all!
        >
        > I know Basho is just outside of period, but I was hoping you all could help me find a specific translation of his famous frog poem.
        >
        > I wanted to give my lord a book of haiku for Christmas, but alas, I didn't realize that the one I ordered from Amazon was not the translation I wanted. (I ordered "The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa" by Robert Hass, before I knew better)
        >
        > Here's the Japanese:
        >
        > Furu ike ya
        > Kawazu tobikomu
        > Mizu no oto.
        >
        > I don't care for those translations that render the last line as "sound of water" - I'm looking for "splash," which I find closer in spirit to the original.

        But the original *is* "the sound of water," not "splash" or "kerplop" or "bawoosh." Basho probably could have used the Japanese "hanekashi" (splash) or one of Japan's famous treasure trove of onomatopoeic words, but he didn't -- he said, "the sound of water."

        First, that fits the meter -- five mora. Second, it's more ambiguous. The gentle sound of the water as the frog leaps is the only sound accompanying the quiet, peaceful, natural setting. The focus is not the splash -- the noise is part of thw whole event.

        To me, "the sound of water" is both more accurate and more appropriate.

        But... since you ask....

        You've never seen a book called "One hundred frogs" which is nothing more than a collection of translations of That One Haiku.

        It's a very odd book...


        Effingham
      • Susan and Frank Downs
        I don t know how much this will help you, but the World Literature textbook I use to teach my tenth graders has four versions of this poem; the first is the
        Message 3 of 4 , Dec 22, 2001
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          I don't know how much this will help you, but the World Literature textbook
          I use to teach my tenth graders has four versions of this poem; the first is
          the Japanese one you put in your message, then these three English
          translations:

          Old pond:
          frog jump-in
          water-sound.

          translated by Harold G. Henderson (the bookcalls it a literal translation)

          An old silent pond...
          A frog jumps into the pond,
          splash! Silence again.

          translated by Harry Biehn, retaining the seventeen syllable structure

          The ancient pond!
          A frog plunged -- splash!

          translated by Asataro Miyamori, described as "a looser translation" which
          "captures the image and abandons the three-line form"

          Anyway, this is what the "leaders of tomorrow" (tm) are learning. The book
          is _World Literature_ published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. It's a great
          textbook but not much of a Christmas gift.

          --
          Takenoshita Naro
          Frank Downs

          > Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 10:09:43 -0500
          > From: Emma Kolstad Antunes <eantunes@...>
          > Subject: Basho haiku translation question
          >
          > Greetings all!
          >
          > I know Basho is just outside of period, but I was hoping you all could help me
          > find a specific translation of his famous frog poem.
          >
          > I wanted to give my lord a book of haiku for Christmas, but alas, I didn't
          > realize that the one I ordered from Amazon was not the translation I wanted.
          > (I ordered "The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa" by
          > Robert Hass, before I knew better)
          >
          > Here's the Japanese:
          >
          > Furu ike ya
          > Kawazu tobikomu
          > Mizu no oto.
          >
          > I don't care for those translations that render the last line as "sound of
          > water" - I'm looking for "splash," which I find closer in spirit to the
          > original. I could translate it myself, but the point is to find a book on
          > haiku. If I like the version of this poem by a particular translator, I'm more
          > likely to enjoy the rest of the work.
          >
          > One version I've found that I like is
          > "An old pond/ a frog jumps in/ splash!"
          > However, I don't know who the translator is.(Things online are so rarely
          > attributed!)
          >
          > Here are the translations I've found so far:
          >
          > old pond.....
          > a frog leaps in
          > water's sound
          > ---- translated by William J. Higginson
          >
          > Into the old pond
          > a frog jumped
          > with a splash
          > ----- translated by Kimiyo Tanaka
          >
          > The old pond---
          > a frog jumps in,
          > sound of water.
          > ---- translated by Robert Hass
          >
          > Do you all know where I could find a translation that's more to my taste, or
          > have any favorite books of haiku you'd recommend? I really appreciate the
          > help!
          >
          > Thanks!
          > Emma
          >
          > --
          > Emma Kolstad Antunes
          > eantunes@...
          > http://www.rpg.net/emma/
          >
        • drnostrand
          Noble Cousins! Greetings from Solveig! For some reason, I was disconnected from the mailing list around the begining of Decemember. I must streanulously agree
          Message 4 of 4 , Dec 29, 2001
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            Noble Cousins!

            Greetings from Solveig! For some reason, I was disconnected from the
            mailing list around the begining of Decemember. I must streanulously
            agree withBaron Edward about the Basho poem.

            > > Furu ike ya
            > > Kawazu tobikomu
            > > Mizu no oto.

            An old pond
            A frog jumps in
            The sound of water.

            First of all, haiku are poetic sketchs. They are supposed to evoke a
            sense of place and time. The poem does that. Mizu no oto is literally
            the sound of water. The poet leaves it to the imagination of the
            audience to hear the sound and to experience the pond. Japanese is
            full of sound words, ifBasho wanted to use a sound word, he would
            have.

            What is interesting about the poem if you are interested in word play
            is theexact word used for frog. In this poem, it is kaezu and not
            kaeru.Why is this interesting? Kaeru (frog) is homonyminous with kaeru
            return whilekaezu is arguably homophonoous with kaezu (without
            returning). In thisway, the poet gives us a sense of effinescence.

            The other interesting word choice in the poem is the choice of kiriji
            (elipsisword) -ya. Ya evokes a sense of indefiniteness as to location.
            Thatis, youshould not automatically take it to be that this is just
            about
            one specific old pond, but in some sense that there is more to the
            scene.

            Baron edward has also mentioned the ambiguity of the word "sound"
            Water makes many sorts of sounds as do frogs jumping into water.
            Again, you are invited to join in making the image.

            Regardless, specificity and ambiguity are used deliberately in haikku.
            The kiriji is a mechanism for introducing elipsis and often ambiguity
            into haiku. Here is a an example of kiriji in a very bad attempt at
            haiku. In this case, a reference to geodes is used eliptically in
            describing a waterfall.

            Take ochite
            Menno no ishi ya
            Yamawarabe

            Now then, a generous reader will envision the thunder of the waterfall
            out of such scribblings.

            Your Humble Servant
            Solveig Throndardottir
            Amateur Scholar

            Incidentally, I hate tyring to write email into text boxes on web
            pages. I do hope that yahoo will somehow go back to forwarding email
            for this group.
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