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Best Famous Haiku Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Haiku poems. This is a select list of the best famous Haiku poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Haiku poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of haiku poems.

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by Emanuel Xavier |


 I want you to continue writing
because I will not always be around

With lips that will never touch mine
read your poems out loud
so that the words are left engraved 
on the wall
make me feel your voice rush through me
like a breeze from Oyá

I want to hear about Puerto Rico
about sisters with names like La Bruja
about educating youth about AIDS
I want to hear about life 
in the Boogie Down Bronx
surviving on the Down Low
don't leave out stories about men
you have loved and still love

I want you to write poems that you 
will never read
press hard on the paper 
so that the ink runs deep
hold the pen tight 
so that you control the details
prove to me that I inspire you
reveal yourself between the lines
hear my praise 
with each flicker of the candle
Write a poem for me

Do not choose a fresh page 
from a brand new journal
use paper that has been crumbled and tossed
thrown out by a spineless father 
only to be recycled
Save a tree for future poets to write under

Rewrite me into someone more attractive
stronger than life has made me
make me tough and sexy, 
aggressive like a tiger
stain the pages with cum, 
lube, the arousal you find
at the sight of naked boys, draw me sketches
bring the words to life with images
make me a man with this poem

Read it in front of the audience
with hidden messages just for me
be real and tell me why
I am only worth a haiku

Your epics are meant for others
I already know,
use red ink to match the blood 
from these wounds
with brutal honesty
let me die with your last sentence

Then resurrect me with rhyme
read from your gut
let me hear the wisdom of mi abuelo 
in your voice
let me find my father in you
remind me of all the men 
that left me broken promises

In your eyes I want to see a poem
when you bring me to tears
with painful memories
buried beneath your thick skin

Between teeth gapped like divas,
I want to hear quotes from books
I never read

Make me believe you want to be a poet

Make my heart break,
tell me why you could never love me
with just a few words
leave me lost and insecure
feel the admiration of others
bask in their desire
forget that I am there

Pound your fists in the air with passion
go off about politics, poverty, 
machismo and hate
scream poems that don't give a fuck
about traditions, slamming or scores
save your whispers 
for those who make love to you

Write a poem for me 
that makes me want to puff a joint

A poem that loses control
unafraid to be vulnerable
for once just make me believe
it is all worth letting go
when the smoke clears
I will understand
the reason 
I am just another face 
in the crowd

I want you to continue writing
because I will not always be around

by Barry Tebb |


 It is time after thirty years

We had our Poetry Renaissance

Rise, Children of Albion, rise!

It is time after nightmares of sleep

When we walked the streets of inner cities

Our poems among the burnt-out houses

And cars, whispering compassion

To the addicts shaking and the homeless

Waking and those who have come apart

In the nowhere of today

Begging in stations

Sleeping in boxes.

It is time to find

Our lost, those children

I taught three decades ago

To paint on ceilings

With sticks of incense

Rainbows of silence

For John Cage

To write on walls

In luminous paint

Pink haiku

For Allen Ginsberg.

It is time to awaken and emblazon the sky

With symphonies of sorrow,

To draft the articles of war.

Poets of the Underground

The doors have opened

The ghost of Walt Whitman

Grey-bearded, in lonely anguish

Walks with us.

by Barry Tebb |


 At ten she came to me, three years ago,

There was ‘something between us’ even then;

Watching her write like Eliot every day,

Turn prose into haiku in ten minutes flat,

Write a poem in Greek three weeks from learning the alphabet;

Then translate it as ‘Sun on a tomb, gold place, small sacred horse’.

I never got over having her in the room, though

Every day she was impossible in a new way,

Stamping her foot like a naughty Enid Blyton child,

Shouting "Poets don’t do arithmetic!"

Or drawing caricatures of me in her book.

Then there were the ‘moments of vision’, her eyes

Dissolving the blank walls and made-up faces,

Genius painfully going through her paces,

The skull she drew, the withered chrysanthemum

And scarlet rose, ‘Descensus averno’, like Virgil,

I supposed.

Now three years later, in nylons and tight skirt,

She returns from grammar school to make a chaos of my room;

Plaiting a rose in her hair, I remember the words of her poem -

‘For love is wrong/in word, in deed/But you will be mine’

And now her promise to come the last two days of term,

"But not tell them", the diamond bomb exploding

In her eyes, the key left ‘Accidentally’ on my desk

And the faint surprise.

by Robert Pinsky |

Impossible To Tell

 to Robert Hass and in memory of Elliot Gilbert

Slow dulcimer, gavotte and bow, in autumn,
Bashõ and his friends go out to view the moon;
In summer, gasoline rainbow in the gutter,

The secret courtesy that courses like ichor
Through the old form of the rude, full-scale joke,
Impossible to tell in writing. "Bashõ"

He named himself, "Banana Tree": banana
After the plant some grateful students gave him,
Maybe in appreciation of his guidance

Threading a long night through the rules and channels
Of their collaborative linking-poem
Scored in their teacher's heart: live, rigid, fluid

Like passages etched in a microscopic cicuit.
Elliot had in his memory so many jokes
They seemed to breed like microbes in a culture

Inside his brain, one so much making another
It was impossible to tell them all:
In the court-culture of jokes, a top banana.

Imagine a court of one: the queen a young mother,
Unhappy, alone all day with her firstborn child
And her new baby in a squalid apartment

Of too few rooms, a different race from her neighbors.
She tells the child she's going to kill herself.
She broods, she rages. Hoping to distract her,

The child cuts capers, he sings, he does imitations
Of different people in the building, he jokes,
He feels if he keeps her alive until the father

Gets home from work, they'll be okay till morning.
It's laughter versus the bedroom and the pills.
What is he in his efforts but a courtier?

Impossible to tell his whole delusion.
In the first months when I had moved back East
From California and had to leave a message

On Bob's machine, I used to make a habit
Of telling the tape a joke; and part-way through,
I would pretend that I forgot the punchline,

Or make believe that I was interrupted--
As though he'd be so eager to hear the end
He'd have to call me back. The joke was Elliot's,

More often than not. The doctors made the blunder
That killed him some time later that same year.
One day when I got home I found a message

On my machine from Bob. He had a story
About two rabbis, one of them tall, one short,
One day while walking along the street together

They see the corpse of a Chinese man before them,
And Bob said, sorry, he forgot the rest.
Of course he thought that his joke was a dummy,

Impossible to tell--a dead-end challenge.
But here it is, as Elliot told it to me:
The dead man's widow came to the rabbis weeping,

Begging them, if they could, to resurrect him.
Shocked, the tall rabbi said absolutely not.
But the short rabbi told her to bring the body

Into the study house, and ordered the shutters
Closed so the room was night-dark. Then he prayed
Over the body, chanting a secret blessing

Out of Kabala. "Arise and breathe," he shouted;
But nothing happened. The body lay still. So then
The little rabbi called for hundreds of candles

And danced around the body, chanting and praying
In Hebrew, then Yiddish, then Aramaic. He prayed
In Turkish and Egyptian and Old Galician

For nearly three hours, leaping about the coffin
In the candlelight so that his tiny black shoes
Seemed not to touch the floor. With one last prayer

Sobbed in the Spanish of before the Inquisition
He stopped, exhausted, and looked in the dead man's face.
Panting, he raised both arms in a mystic gesture

And said, "Arise and breathe!" And still the body
Lay as before. Impossible to tell
In words how Elliot's eyebrows flailed and snorted

Like shaggy mammoths as--the Chinese widow
Granting permission--the little rabbi sang
The blessing for performing a circumcision

And removed the dead man's foreskin, chanting blessings
In Finnish and Swahili, and bathed the corpse
From head to foot, and with a final prayer

In Babylonian, gasping with exhaustion,
He seized the dead man's head and kissed the lips
And dropped it again and leaping back commanded,

"Arise and breathe!" The corpse lay still as ever.
At this, as when Bashõ's disciples wind
Along the curving spine that links the renga

Across the different voices, each one adding
A transformation according to the rules
Of stasis and repetition, all in order

And yet impossible to tell beforehand,
Elliot changes for the punchline: the wee
Rabbi, still panting, like a startled boxer,

Looks at the dead one, then up at all those watching,
A kind of Mel Brooks gesture: "Hoo boy!" he says,
"Now that's what I call really dead." O mortal

Powers and princes of earth, and you immortal
Lords of the underground and afterlife,
Jehovah, Raa, Bol-Morah, Hecate, Pluto,

What has a brilliant, living soul to do with
Your harps and fires and boats, your bric-a-brac
And troughs of smoking blood? Provincial stinkers,

Our languages don't touch you, you're like that mother
Whose small child entertained her to beg her life.
Possibly he grew up to be the tall rabbi,

The one who washed his hands of all those capers
Right at the outset. Or maybe he became
The author of these lines, a one-man renga

The one for whom it seems to be impossible
To tell a story straight. It was a routine
Procedure. When it was finished the physicians

Told Sandra and the kids it had succeeded,
But Elliot wouldn't wake up for maybe an hour,
They should go eat. The two of them loved to bicker

In a way that on his side went back to Yiddish,
On Sandra's to some Sicilian dialect.
He used to scold her endlessly for smoking.

When she got back from dinner with their children
The doctors had to tell them about the mistake.
Oh swirling petals, falling leaves! The movement

Of linking renga coursing from moment to moment
Is meaning, Bob says in his Haiku book.
Oh swirling petals, all living things are contingent,

Falling leaves, and transient, and they suffer.
But the Universal is the goal of jokes,
Especially certain ethnic jokes, which taper

Down through the swirling funnel of tongues and gestures
Toward their preposterous Ithaca. There's one
A journalist told me. He heard it while a hero

Of the South African freedom movement was speaking
To elderly Jews. The speaker's own right arm
Had been blown off by right-wing letter-bombers.

He told his listeners they had to cast their ballots
For the ANC--a group the old Jews feared
As "in with the Arabs." But they started weeping

As the old one-armed fighter told them their country
Needed them to vote for what was right, their vote
Could make a country their children could return to

From London and Chicago. The moved old people
Applauded wildly, and the speaker's friend
Whispered to the journalist, "It's the Belgian Army

Joke come to life." I wish I could tell it
To Elliot. In the Belgian Army, the feud
Between the Flemings and Walloons grew vicious,

So out of hand the army could barely function.
Finally one commander assembled his men
In one great room, to deal with things directly.

They stood before him at attention. "All Flemings,"
He ordered, "to the left wall." Half the men
Clustered to the left. "Now all Walloons," he ordered,

"Move to the right." An equal number crowded
Against the right wall. Only one man remained
At attention in the middle: "What are you, soldier?"

Saluting, the man said, "Sir, I am a Belgian."
"Why, that's astonishing, Corporal--what's your name?"
Saluting again, "Rabinowitz," he answered:

A joke that seems at first to be a story
About the Jews. But as the renga describes
Religious meaning by moving in drifting petals

And brittle leaves that touch and die and suffer
The changing winds that riffle the gutter swirl,
So in the joke, just under the raucous music

Of Fleming, Jew, Walloon, a courtly allegiance
Moves to the dulcimer, gavotte and bow,
Over the banana tree the moon in autumn--

Allegiance to a state impossible to tell.

by Allen Ginsberg |

Haiku (Never Published)

 Drinking my tea
Without sugar-
 No difference.

The sparrow shits
 upside down
--ah! my brain & eggs

Mayan head in a
Pacific driftwood bole
--Someday I'll live in N.Y.

Looking over my shoulder
my behind was covered
with cherry blossoms.

 Winter Haiku
I didn't know the names 
of the flowers--now
my garden is gone.

I slapped the mosquito
and missed.
What made me do that?

Reading haiku
I am unhappy,
longing for the Nameless.

A frog floating 
in the drugstore jar:
summer rain on grey pavements.
 (after Shiki)

On the porch
in my shorts;
auto lights in the rain.

Another year
has past-the world
is no different.

The first thing I looked for 
in my old garden was
The Cherry Tree.

My old desk:
the first thing I looked for
in my house.

My early journal:
the first thing I found
in my old desk.

My mother's ghost:
the first thing I found
in the living room.

I quit shaving
but the eyes that glanced at me
remained in the mirror.

The madman 
emerges from the movies:
the street at lunchtime.

Cities of boys
are in their graves,
and in this town...

Lying on my side
in the void:
the breath in my nose.

On the fifteenth floor
the dog chews a bone-
Screech of taxicabs.

A hardon in New York,
a boy
in San Fransisco.

The moon over the roof,
worms in the garden.
I rent this house.

[Haiku composed in the backyard cottage at 1624
Milvia Street, Berkeley 1955, while reading R.H. 
Blyth's 4 volumes, "Haiku."]

by Yosa Buson |

Variations on The short night

 Below are eleven Buson haiku
beginning with the phrase
'The short night--'

The short night--
on the hairy caterpillar
beads of dew.

The short night--
washing in the river.

The short night--
bubbles of crab froth
among the river reeds.

The short night--
a broom thrown away
on the beach.

The short night--
the Oi River
has sunk two feet.

The short night--
on the outskirts of the village
a small shop opening.

The short night--
broken, in the shallows,
a crescent moon.

The short night--
the peony
has opened.

The short night--
waves beating in,
an abandoned fire.

The short night--
near the pillow
a screen turning silver.

The short night--
shallow footprints
on the beach at Yui.

User Submitted "The short night--" Haiku

Submit your own haiku beginning with the line
"The short night--"
and we'll post the best ones below!

Just dash off an e-mail to:

The short night-
a watery moon
stands alone over the hill


The short night--
just as I'm falling asleep
my wife's waking up

 Larry Bole

by Richard Brautigan |

Trout Fishing in America

 a novel by Richard Brautigan



The cover for Trout Fishing in America is a photograph taken

late in the afternoon, a photograph of the Benjamin Franklin

statue in San Francisco's Washington Square.

Born 1706--Died 1790, Benjamin Franklin stands on a

 pedestal that looks like a house containing stone furniture.

 He holds some papers in one hand and his hat in the other.

Then the statue speaks, saying in marble:








Around the base of the statue are four words facing the

directions of this world, to the east WELCOME, to the west

WELCOME, to the north WELCOME, to the south WELCOME.

Just behind the statue are three poplar trees, almost leafless

 except for the top branches. The statue stands in front

of the middle tree. All around the grass is wet from the

 rains of early February.

 In the background is a tall cypress tree, almost dark like

a room. Adlai Stevenson spoke under the tree in 1956, before

 a crowd of 40, 000 people.

 There is a tall church across the street from the statue

with crosses, steeples, bells and a vast door that looks like

 a huge mousehole, perhaps from a Tom and Jerry cartoon,

 and written above the door is "Per L'Universo."

 Around five o'clock in the afternoon of my cover for

Trout Fishing in America, people gather in the park across

 the street from the church and they are hungry.

It's sandwich time for the poor.

But they cannot cross the street until the signal is given.

Then they all run across the street to the church and get

their sandwiches that are wrapped in newspaper. They go

back to the park and unwrap the newspaper and see what their

sandwiches are all about.

A friend of mine unwrapped his sandwich one afternoon

and looked inside to find just a leaf of spinach. That was all.

Was it Kafka who learned about America by reading the

 autobiography of Benjamin Franklin..............

Kafka who said, "I like the Americans because they are healthy

and optimistic."



As a child when did I first hear about trout fishing in America?

 From whom? I guess it was a stepfather of mine.

 Summer of 1942.

 The old drunk told me about troutfishing. When he could talk,

 he had a way of describing trout as if they were a precious

 and intelligent metal.

 Silver is not a good adjective to describe what I felt when

he told me about trout fishing.

 I'd like to get it right.

 Maybe trout steel. Steel made from trout. The clear

snow-filled river acting as foundry and heat.

 Imagine Pittsburgh.

 A steel that comes from trout, used to make buildings,

 trains and tunnels.

 The Andrew Carnegie of Trout!

The Reply of Trout Fishing in America:

 I remember with particular amusement, people with three-

cornered hats fishing in the dawn.

 One spring afternoon as a child in the strange town of Portland,

 I walked down to a different street corner, and saw a row of old houses,

 huddled together like seals on a rock. Then there was a long field that
came sloping down off a hill. The field was covered with green grass and
bushes. On top of the hill there was a grove of tall, dark trees. At a
distance I saw a waterfall come pouring down off the hill. It was long and
white and I could almost feel its cold spray.
There must be a creek there, I thought, and it probably has trout in it.

 At last an opportunity to go trout fishing, to catch my first Trout,
to behold Pittsburgh.

 It was growing dark. I didn't have time to go and look at the creek.
I walked home past the glass whiskers of the houses, reflecting the
downward rushing waterfalls of night.

 The next day I would go trout fishing for the first time. I would get up

early and eat my breakfast and go.
I had heard that it was better to go trout fishing
early in the morning. The trout were better for it. They had something
extra in the morning. I went home to prepare for trout fishing in America.
I didn't have any fishing tackle, so I had to fall back on
corny fishing tackle. Like a joke.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

I bent a pin and tied it onto a piece of white string.

And slept. The next morning I got up
early and ate my breakfast. I took a slice of white bread to use for bait.
I planned on making dough balls from the soft center of the bread
and putting them on my vaudevillian hook. I left the place and walked
down to the different streetCorner. How beautiful the field looked and
the creek that came pouring down in a waterfall off the hill.

 But as I got closer to the creek I could see that
something was wrong. The creek did not act right.
There was a strangeness to it. There was a thing about its motion
that was wrong. Finally I got close enough to see what the trouble was.

 The waterfall was just a flight of white wooden stairs leading up
to a house in the trees.

I stood there for a long time, looking up and looking down,
 following the stairs with my eyes, having trouble believing.
Then I knocked on my creek and heard the sound of wood

 I ended up by being my own trout and eating the slice of bread myself.

 The Reply of Trout Fishing in America:
 There was nothing I could do. I couldn't change a flight of stairs
into a creek. The boy walked back to where he came from.

The same thing once happened to me. I remember
mistaking an old woman for a trout stream in Vermont,
 and I had to beg her pardon.

"Excuse me, " I said. "I thought you were a trout stream. "
"I'm not, " she said.


Seventeen years later I sat down on a rock. It was under a

tree next to an old abandoned shack that had a sheriff's

notice nailed like a funeral wreath to the front door.


 4/17 OF A HAIKU

 Many rivers had flowed past those seventeen years, and

thousands of trout, and now beside the highway and the sheriff's

notice flowed yet another river, the Klamath, and I was

trying to get thirty-five miles downstream to Steelhead,

the place where I was staying.

 It was all very simple. No one would stop and pick me up

even though I was carrying fishing tackle. People usually

stop and pick up a fisherman. I had to wait three hours for a


 The sun was like a huge fifty-cent piece that someone had

 poured kerosene on and then had lit with a match and said,

"Here, hold this while I go get a newspaper, " and put the

coin in my hand, but never came back.

 I had walked for miles and miles until I came to the rock

under the tree and sat down. Every time a car would come

by, about once every ten minutes, I would get up and stick

out my thumb as if it were a bunch of bananas and then sit

back down on the rock again.

 The old shack had a tin roof colored reddish by years of

wear, like a hat worn under the guillotine. A corner of the

roof was loose and a hot wind blew down the river and the

loose corner clanged in the wind.

 A car went by. An old couple. The car almost swerved off

the road and into the river. I guess they didn't see many

hitchhikers up there. The car went around the corner

with both of them looking back at me.

 I had nothing else to do, so I caught salmon flies in my

landing net. I made up my own game. It went like this: I

couldn't chase after them. I had to let them fly to me. It

was something to do with my mind. I caught six.

 A little ways up from the shack was an outhouse with its

door flung violently open. The inside of the outhouse was

exposed like a human face and the outhouse seemed to say,

"The old guy who built me crapped in here 9,745 times and

he's dead now and I don't want anyone else to touch me. He

was a good guy. He built me with loving care. Leave me

alone. I'm a monument now to a good ass gone under. There's

no mystery here. That's why the door's open. If you have to

crap, go in the bushes like the deer. "

 "Fuck you, " I said to the outhouse. "All I want is a ride

down the river. "

 When I was a child I had a friend who became a Kool-Aid

wino as the result of a rupture. He was a member of a very

large and poor German family. All the older children in the

family had to work in the fields during the summer, picking

beans for two-and-one-half cents a pound to keep the family

going. Everyone worked except my friend who couldn't

because he was ruptured. There was no money for an operation.

There wasn't even enough money to buy him a truss.

So he stayed home and became a Kool-Aid wino.

 One morning in August I went over to his house. He was

still in bed. He looked up at me from underneath a tattered

revolution of old blankets. He had never slept under a sheet

in his life.

"Did you bring the nickel you promised?" he asked.

"Yeah, " I said. "It's here in my pocket. "

"Good. "

 He hopped out of bed and he was already dressed. He had

told me once that he never took off his clothes when he went

to bed.

 "Why bother?" he had said. "You're only going to get up,

anyway. Be prepared for it. You're not fooling anyone by

taking your clothes off when you go to bed."

 He went into the kitchen, stepping around the littlest

children, whose wet diapers were in various stages of anarchy.

He made his breakfast: a slice of homemade bread covered

with Karo syrup and peanut butter.

"Let's go," he said.

 We left the house with him still eating the sandwich. The

store was three blocks away, on the other side of a field

covered with heavy yellow grass. There were many pheasants

in the field. Fat with summer they barely flew away when we

came up to them.

 "Hello, " said the grocer. He was bald with a red birthmark

on his head. The birthmark looked just like an old car

parked on his head. He automatically reached for a package

of grape Kool-Aid

and put it on the counter.

"Five cents."

"He's got it, " my friend said.

 I reached into my pocket and gave the nickel to the grocer. He

nodded and the old red car wobbled back and forth on the road

as if the driverwere having an epileptic seizure.

We left.

 My friend led the way across the field. One of the pheasants didn't

even bother to fly. He ran across the field in front of us like a feathered

pig. When we got back to my friend's house the ceremony began. To him

the making of Kool-Aid was a romance and a ceremony. It had to be

performed in an exact manner and with dignity.

 First he got a gallon jar and we went around to the side of the

house where the water spigot thrust itself out of the ground like the finger

of a saint, surrounded by a mud puddle.

 He opened the Kool-Aid and dumped it into the jar. Putting the

jar under the spigot, he turned the water on. The water spit, splashed and

guzzled out of the spigot.

 He was careful to see that the jar did not overflow and the precious

Kool-Aid spill out onto the ground. When the jar was full he turned the

water off with a sudden but delicate motion like a famous brain surgeon

removing a disordered portion of the imagination. Then he screwed the

lid tightly onto the top of the jar and gave it a good shake.

The first part of the ceremony was over.

Like the inspired priest of an exotic cult, he had performed the first part

of the ceremony well.

His mother came around the side of the house and said in a voice filled

with sand and string, "When are you going to do the dishes? . . . Huh?"

"Soon, " he said.

"Well, you better, " she said.

When she left. it was as if she had never been there at all. The second part

of the ceremony began with him carrying the jar Very carefully to an

abandoned chicken house in the back. "The dishes can wait, " he said

to me. Bertrand Russell could not have stated it better.

He opened the chicken house door and we went in. The place was littered

with half-rotten comic books. They were like fruit under a tree. In the

corner was an old mattress and beside the mattress were four quart jars.

He took the gallon jar over to them, and filled them carefully not spilling

a drop. He screwed their caps on tightly and was now ready for a day's


 You're supposed to make only two quarts of Kool-Aid from a package,

but he always made a gallon, so his Kool-Aid was a mere shadow of

its desired potency. And you're supposed to add a cup of sugar to every

package of Kool-Aid, but he never put any sugar in his Kool-Aid

because there wasn't any sugar to put in it.

 He created his own Kool-Aid reality and was able to illuminate

himself by it.

by Matsuo Basho |

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)

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

Translated by Robert Hass

Old pond...
a frog jumps in
water's sound.

Translated by William J. Higginson

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

Translated by Harry Behn

There is the old pond!
Lo, into it jumps a frog:
hark, water's music!

Translated by John Bryan

The silent old pond
a mirror of ancient calm,
a frog-leaps-in splash.

Translated by Dion O'Donnol

old pond
frog leaping

Translated by Cid Corman

Antic pond--
frantic frog jumps in--
gigantic sound.

Translated by Bernard Lionel Einbond 


'Dere wasa dis frogg
Gone jumpa offa da logg
Now he inna bogg.'

 -- Anonymous

Translated by George M. Young, Jr.

Old pond 
leap -- splash 
a frog. 

Translated by Lucien Stryck

The old pond,
A frog jumps in:.

Translated by Allan Watts

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

Translated by G.S. Fraser

by Billy Collins |


 Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.

It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again.

I walk through the house reciting it
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.

And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

It's the one about the one-ton temple bell
with the moth sleeping on its surface,

and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth
on the surface of the iron bell.

When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.

When I say it at the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.

And later, when I say it to you in the dark,
you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,

and the moth has flown
from its line
and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.