What better way to face another Friday than with infinite variations of Basho's famed frog / splash poem? Chad Sweeney has delivered 33 highly interpretative versions of the same. How else does one explain pear trees and dragons and mathematical equations from one teeny little poem?
Take a look see at his 33 "translations."
If you need something more down-to-earth, here is the original poem, plus 30 more traditional translations from all the heavy hitters, provided by the Bureau of Public Secrets: Cid Corman, William J. Higginson, D. T. Suzuki, Lafcadio Hearn, Alan Watts, R. H. Blyth, Kenneth Rexroth, Harold Henderson, Donald Keene, Ginsberg, Stryk, Hass ... I could go on and on.
Ed Baker has supplied a few previously to this blog in the comments section of a previous post (just toggle down to see) and I have a feeling he may have a few more to share.
My favorite of Mr. Sweeney's?
And my favorite of the 30 "classic" translations? Well, I can't really decide, most of the variations are so very close. I like Sam Hamill's
At the ancient pond
a frog plunges into
the sound of water
And in the "slightly different" category there is Dick Bakken's
dark old pond
a frog plunks in
As a minimalist's minimalist publisher, how could I not love James Kirkup's 3 word extravaganza?
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the version of Ross Figgins, a poet I've had the pleasure to publish in the past in Lilliput. His version has a nice little twist (back one-and-a-half somersaults, tuck, Mr. Frog?):
a frog leaps in —
a moment after, silence