Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NPM: Seventeen frogs from One Hundred Frogs

Tonight we're going to revisit Basho's famous haiku about the frog.

And there you have it! See you tomorrow, everybody!

Okay, okay.

Transliterated, it goes: 

furu ike ya
kawazu tobi komu
mizu no oto

And now, twenty translations (and/or interpretations), tenderly and lovingly transcribed from from Hiroaki Sato's 100 Frogs! I've done what I can to find the birthdates (and deathdates, where applicable) of each author, but many of them are too obscure to have spurred any digital age readers to write their Wikipedia entries.

Fumiko Saisho
(b. ?)

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

Gertrude Emerson
(1893 - 1982)

Old pond, aye! and the sound of a frog jumping in.

Asataro Miyamori
(1869 - 1952)

The old pond!
 A frog has plunged
  The splash!

Into the calm old pond
A frog plungedthen the splash.

Donald Keene
(1922- )

The ancient pond
A frog leaps in
The sound of the water.

The ancient pond, a frog jumps in, the sound of the water.

Kenneth Rexroth

And old pond
The sound
Of a diving frog.

Scott Alexander

By an ancient pond
a bullfrog sits on a rock
waiting for Basho? 

Edward Bond
(1934- )

Silent old pool
Frog jumps

G.S. Frasier

The old pond, yes, and
A frog is jumping into
The water, and splash.

Old pond, yes, and
Frog jumping into
The water's noise.

Old pond, yes,
Frog there jumping,
Water's noise.

Dorothy Britton

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

R. Clarence Matsuo-Allard
(1949?- )

ancient pond
 a frog jumping into its splash.

Robert Aitken

The old pond;
A frog jumps in
The sound of the water

  (word for word)

Old pond!
frog jumps in
water of sound

The old pond has no walls;
A frog just jumps in;
Do you say there is an echo?

Harold Stewart

The old green pond is silent; here the hop
Of a frog plumbs the evening stillness: plop!

Alfred H. Marks

There once was a curious frog
Who sat by a pond on a log
And, to see what resulted,
In the pond catapulted
With a water-noise heard round the bog.

Ron Padgett
(1942- )

   "Advertising translation"

old pond
frog jumps in
plop plop fizz fizz

Clare Nikt
(b. ?)

Hear the lively song
of the frog in

Michael O'Brien
(1948- )

My Noble Lord:
The cat just pissed on the Basho translations.
O ancient lake!

William Matheson
(1929? - 1997)

  "And what, after all," she paused, as if taking advantage——which he knew (oh, yes! he knew) she was, by heaven!, doing——of the last October light so parsimoniously, and yet with such prodigality, such largesse, being filtered in the room through the window giving on to the Park (but such squalid little panes! he could not help himselfand considering everything, considering particularly this thing, why should he help himself——from thinking), "did, as you seemingly want to tell me about it, 'happen,'——as I believe you expressed it?"
  "Well," he began, with every intention of holding it up, confound it!; it was now, or, to coin a phrase, never.
  "'Well'?" she held fire and there it was, in all its shabby, its commercial, glory, glittering and luminous, between them. "Only 'well?'"
  "Well," taking a perverse delight in the slowness of his enunciation, as how often, God only knows, these last months, she had and over matters infinitely less, to her but unfortunately not to him, important, "there was a noise, a sound, an echo one might say."
  "One 'might,' but should one, should particularly you, say so?"
  "Oh, well I, for all that. . . ." She sailed beyond his modest disclaimer, as she always managed, somehow, and in spite of what were to her, at least, genuine feelings of respect——if that was what he wanted——for him, to do. "And," she continued, she so invincibly continued, contriving in some fashion, out of some font of charity, some well-spring of tendresse, to give him, if not breathing-space, at least time to take a turn around the, he thought, wretched little chambre de bonne which she had the pretension to call——and the miracle of it was, had had the force, or merely the cleverness, of character to cause others to call——a "salon," "this 'noise,' this 'sound,' what exactly, if you'll allow me the indiscretion, was it? What, if I may be so bold to ask, made it?"
  "Ah, as to the making of it, and I think it charming, en dernière analyse, for you to use the word, when all is said and done," knowing, as he full well did know, that nothing, indeed, had been said or done, the nearly nothing had even begun being "said," and that, there being worlds still to be said, surely nothing could even be considered as being "done," "that's a relatively simple matter: it jumped, or leapt, or threw itself, or was propelled——le choix est à vouz——into it, and consequently, as such is often the case, it made a noise."
  "I hope you don't, after all these years, find me——it would be shocking, my love, if you did, but these things happen——benighted or unenlightened, or simply deficient, but," her fine (as fine in Florence) eyes searched vaguely for his, as though this were the last of her beacons, the last of all harbors in which to anchor her craft, "if you'll permit me, what 'jumped' into what and what made what 'noise'?"
  "Ah, there, my dear, you have it, all of it. Or, rather, wouldn't you say?, we both have it, all of it, in all its little quivering, tremulous, so preciously ephemeral, being?"
  "I cannot say, precisely, that I have it, but I am comforted, if that is the word, by your having it, having it so utterly yours, as you have always had," her face in the nearly posthumous effulgence of twilight turning slowly, and as if for the last, the desperately last, time, from his, "everything."

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