Old Pond – Translastion into Italian – February 7, 2016

Basho’s “the old pond”

furu ike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto

the old pond;
a frog jumps in —
the sound of the water

© Basho (Tr. R.H.Blyth

For this new adventure proposed by Chèvrefeuille of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, we are to translate the famous “old pond” haiku written by Basho into our own language.  Though I am not Italian, I’ve spoken the language for over 40 years so .. I can manage to write a haiku.

Not long ago, I came across a site called Matsuo Basho’s Frog Haiku.  Here there are 31 translations of the famous poem, because haiku is not only words but sensations.

The famous Zen master D.T. Suzuki translated it like this:

Into the ancient pond
A frog jumps
Water’s sound!

Cid Corman, an American poet and translator wrote it like this:

old pond
frog leaping

Alan Watts, who is one of my favourite writers about all mystic things oriental, but especially Zen, translated it like this:

The old pond,
A frog jumps in:

One of the translation is very verbose, it is one of the first translations and  was done by another American,  Curtis Hidden Page  …

A lonely pond in age-old stillness sleeps . . .
Apart, unstirred by sound or motion . . . till
Suddenly into it a lithe frog leaps.

And lastly the beat generation through Alan Ginsberg translated it like this:

The old pond
A frog jumped in,


The basic elements then are:  a frog and an unkempt or perhaps just very old pond … with mould on the rocks and watery plants … maybe something like this:

Turtles of course!

We can imagine that it might be a warm day … or perhaps it’s in the evening.  Perhaps Basho was meditating when he heard the sound of water and decided that it was a frog .. perhaps he saw the frog jump into the water … and what is the spiritual implications of the frog jumping into the pond – could this be a metaphor of something else?

How would I translate all this in Italian?

al vecchio stagno
si tuffa una rana

Basho (Tr. G.s.k. ’16)

(it’s interesting to note the onomatopoeic for an object hitting  waster is splash)

translated back into English this would be

at the old pond
a frog dives in

Basho (Tr. G.s.k. ’16

The other day I wrote a completely different post for: Carpe Diem Vernacular, with a twist #1 the old pond because I misunderstood the prompt thinking we were to choose a haiku and translate it …

Issa in Italian – Vernacular Challenge – February 6, 2016


neko tsuka [ni] shôgatsu saseru gomame kana

on the cat’s grave
in First Month…
dried sardines

© Kobayashi Issa

tomba di gatto
pei Morti
sardine secche

© Kobayashi Issa (Translation Bastet ’16)

I translated the second line not as First Month which is the Memorial period in Japan but as “I Morti” (literally The Dead) the same celebration but only on one day the first of November.Carpe Diem Vernacular, with a twist #1 the old pond