Matsuo Basho |
Following are several translations
of the 'Old Pond' poem, which may be
the most famous of all haiku:
mizu no oto
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
a frog jumps in
Translated by William J.
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
Translated by Cid Corman
frantic frog jumps in--
Translated by Bernard Lionel Einbond
MAFIA HIT MAN POET: NOTE FOUND PINNED TO LAPEL
OF DROWNED VICTIM'S DOUBLE-BREASTED SUIT!!!
'Dere wasa dis frogg
Gone jumpa offa da logg
Now he inna bogg.
Translated by George M.
leap -- splash
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.
Wild and fearful in his cavern
Hid the naked troglodyte,
And the homeless nomad wandered
Laying waste the fertile plain.
Menacing with spear and arrow
In the woods the hunter strayed .
Woe to all poor wreteches stranded
On those cruel and hostile shores!
From the peak of high Olympus
Came the mother Ceres down,
Seeeking in those savage regions
Her lost daughter Prosperine.
But the Goddess found no refuge,
Found no kindly welcome there,
And no temple bearing witness
To the worship of the gods.
From the fields and from the vineyards
Came no fruit to deck the feasts,
Only flesh of blood-stained victims
Smouldered on the alter-fires,
And where'er the grieving goddess
Turns her melancholy gaze,
Sunk in vilest degradation
Man his loathsomeness displays.
Would he purge his soul from vileness
And attain to light and worth,
He must turn and cling forever
To his ancient Mother Earth.
Joy everlasting fostereth
The soul of all creation,
It is her secret ferment fires
The cup of life with flame.
'Tis at her beck the grass hath turned
Each blade toward the light
and solar systems have evolved
From chaos and dark night,
Filling the realms of boundless space
Beyond the sage's sight.
At bounteous nature's kindly breast,
All things that breath drink Joy,
And bird and beasts and creaping things
All follow where she leads.
Her gifts to man are friends in need,
The wreath, the foaming must,
To angels -- visions of God's throne,
To insects -- sensual lust.
Anne Sexton |
"You speak to me of narcissism but I reply that it is
a matter of my life" - Artaud
"At this time let me somehow bequeath all the leftovers
to my daughters and their daughters" - Anonymous
despite the worms talking to
the mare's hoof in the field;
despite the season of young girls
dropping their blood;
to drop myself quickly
into an old room.
Better (someone said)
not to be born
and far better
not to be born twice
where the boardinghouse,
each year a bedroom,
I will have to sink with hundreds of others
on a dumbwaiter into hell.
I will be a light thing.
I will enter death
like someone's lost optical lens.
Life is half enlarged.
The fish and owls are fierce today.
Life tilts backward and forward.
Even the wasps cannot find my eyes.
eyes that were immediate once.
Eyes that have been truly awake,
eyes that told the whole story—
poor dumb animals.
Eyes that were pierced,
little nail heads,
light blue gunshots.
And once with
a mouth like a cup,
clay colored or blood colored,
open like the breakwater
for the lost ocean
and open like the noose
for the first head.
Once upon a time
my hunger was for Jesus.
O my hunger! My hunger!
Before he grew old
he rode calmly into Jerusalem
in search of death.
do not ask for understanding
and yet I hope everyone else
will turn their heads when an unrehearsed fish jumps
on the surface of Echo Lake;
its bass note turned up loud,
hurts some building in Boston,
when the truly beautiful lie together.
I think of this, surely,
and would think of it far longer
if I were not… if I were not
at that old fire.
I could admit
that I am only a coward
crying me me me
and not mention the little gnats, the moths,
forced by circumstance
to suck on the electric bulb.
But surely you know that everyone has a death,
his own death,
waiting for him.
So I will go now
without old age or disease,
wildly but accurately,
knowing my best route,
carried by that toy donkey I rode all these years,
never asking, “Where are we going?”
We were riding (if I'd only known)
please do not think
that I visualize guitars playing
or my father arching his bone.
I do not even expect my mother's mouth.
I know that I have died before—
once in November, once in June.
How strange to choose June again,
so concrete with its green breasts and bellies.
Of course guitars will not play!
The snakes will certainly not notice.
New York City will not mind.
At night the bats will beat on the trees,
knowing it all,
seeing what they sensed all day.
Billy Collins |
Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.
Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
" "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.
Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.
Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
" "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.
And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs.
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.
We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.
Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.
And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.
Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page
A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love.
Anne Sexton |
And I solemnly swear
on the chill of secrecy
that I know you not, this room never,
the swollen dress I wear,
nor the anonymous spoons that free me,
nor this calendar nor the pulse we pare and cover.
For all these present,
before that wandering ghost,
that yellow moth of my summer bed,
I say: this small event
So I prepare, am dosed
in ether and will not cry what stays unsaid.
I was brown with August,
the clapping waves at my thighs
and a storm riding into the cove.
while the others beached and burst
for their boarded huts, their hale cries
shouting back to us and the hollow slam
of the dory against the float.
Black arms of thunder strapped
upon us, squalled out, we breathed in rain
and stroked past the boat.
We thrashed for shore as if we were trapped
in green and that suddenly inadequate stain
of lightning belling around
Bodies in air
we raced for the empty lobsterman-shack.
It was yellow inside, the sound
of the underwing of the sun.
I most solemnly swear, on all the bric-a-brac
of summer loves, I know
Alec Derwent (A D) Hope |
When, darkly brooding on this Modern Age,
The journalist with his marketable woes
Fills up once more the inevitable page
Of fatuous, flatulent, Sunday-paper prose;
Whenever the green aesthete starts to whoop
With horror at the house not made with hands
And when from vacuum cleaners and tinned soup
Another pure theosophist demands
Rebirth in other, less industrial stars
Where huge towns thrust up in synthetic stone
And films and sleek miraculous motor cars
And celluloid and rubber are unknown;
When from his vegetable Sunday School
Emerges with the neatly maudlin phrase
Still one more Nature poet, to rant or drool
About the "Standardization of the Race";
I see, stooping among her orchard trees,
The old, sound Earth, gathering her windfalls in,
Broad in the hams and stiffening at the knees,
Pause and I see her grave malicious grin.
For there is no manufacturer competes
With her in the mass production of shapes and things.
Over and over she gathers and repeats
The cast of a face, a million butterfly wings.
She does not tire of the pattern of a rose.
Her oldest tricks still catch us with surprise.
She cannot recall how long ago she chose
The streamlined hulls of fish, the snail's long eyes,
Love, which still pours into its ancient mould
The lashing seed that grows to a man again,
From whom by the same processes unfold
Unending generations of living men.
She has standardized his ultimate needs and pains.
Lost tribes in a lost language mutter in
His dreams: his science is tethered to their brains,
His guilt merely repeats Original Sin.
And beauty standing motionless before
Her mirror sees behind her, mile on mile,
A long queue in an unknown corridor,
Anonymous faces plastered with her smile.
Ralph Waldo Emerson |
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St.
Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc'd in their heads,
And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap—
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:
"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen,
"On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem1;
"To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
"Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys—and St.
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St.
Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress'd all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish'd with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look'd like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow.
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh'd when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill'd all the stockings; then turn'd with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
In the year 2000, Don Foster, an English professor at Vassar College
in Poughkeepsie, New York, used external and internal evidence to show
that Clement Clarke Moore could not have been the author of this poem,
but that it was probably the work of Livingston, and that Moore had
written another, and almost forgotten, Christmas piece, "Old
" Foster's analysis of this deception appears in his Author
Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous (New York: Henry Holt, 2000):
1Later revised to "Donder and Blitzen" by Clement Clarke
Moore when he took credit for the poem in Poems (New York: Bartlett
and Welford, 1844).
Anne Sexton |
A young man is afraid of his demon and puts his hand
over the demon's mouth sometimes.
I mentioned my demon to a friend
and the friend swam in oil and came forth to me
greasy and cryptic
"I'm thinking of taking him out of hock.
I pawned him years ago.
Who would buy?
The pawned demon,
Yellowing with forgetfulness
and hand at his throat?
Take him out of hock, my friend,
but beware of the grief
that will fly into your mouth like a bird.
too often undressed,
too often a crucifix I bring forth,
too often a dead daisy I give water to
too often the child I give birth to
and then abort, nameless, nameless.
Oh demon within,
I am afraid and seldom put my hand up
to my mouth and stitch it up
covering you, smothering you
from the public voyeury eyes
of my typewriter keys.
If I should pawn you,
what bullion would they give for you,
what pennies, swimming in their copper kisses
what bird on its way to perishing?
I accept you,
you come with the dead who people my dreams,
who walk all over my desk
(as in Mother, cancer blossoming on her
Best & Co.
waltzing with her tissue paper ghost)
the dead, who give sweets to the diabetic in me,
who give bolts to the seizure of roses
that sometimes fly in and out of me.
I accept you, demon.
I will not cover your mouth.
If it be man I love, apple laden and foul
or if it be woman I love, sick unto her blood
and its sugary gasses and tumbling branches.
Demon come forth,
even if it be God I call forth
standing like a carrion,
wanting to eat me,
starting at the lips and tongue.
And me wanting to glide into His spoils,
I take bread and wine,
and the demon farts and giggles,
at my letting God out of my mouth
at the anonymous altar.
Delmore Schwartz |
Nothing is given which is not taken.
Little or nothing is taken which is not freely desired,
freely, truly and fully.
"You would not seek me if you had not found me": this is
true of all that is supremely desired and admired.
"An enigma is an animal," said the hurried, harried
And a horse divided against itself cannot stand;
And a moron is a man who believes in having too many
wives: what harm is there in that?
O the endless fecundity of poetry is equaled
By its endless inexhaustible freshness, as in the discovery
of America and of poetry.
Hence it is clear that the truth is not strait and narrow but infinite:
All roads lead to Rome and to poetry
and to poem, sweet poem
and from, away and towards are the same typography.
Hence the poet must be, in a way, stupid and naive and a
Unless ye be as a little child ye cannot enter the kingdom
Hence the poet must be able to become a tiger like Blake; a
carousel like Rilke.
Hence he must be all things to be free, for all impersonations
a doormat and a monument
to all situations possible or actual
The cuckold, the cuckoo, the conqueror, and the coxcomb.
It is to him in the zoo that the zoo cries out and the hyena:
"Hello, take off your hat, king of the beasts, and be seated,
And hence the poet must seek to be essentially anonymous.
He must die a little death each morning.
He must swallow his toad and study his vomit
as Baudelaire studied la charogne of Jeanne Duval.
The poet must be or become both Keats and Renoir and
Keats as Renoir.
Mozart as Figaro and Edgar Allan Poe as Ophelia, stoned
out of her mind
drowning in the river called forever river and ever.
Keats as Mimi, Camille, and an aging gourmet.
He must also refuse the favors of the unattainable lady
(As Baudelaire refused Madame Sabatier when the fair
blonde summoned him,
For Jeanne Duval was enough and more than enough,
although she cuckolded him
With errand boys, servants, waiters; reality was Jeanne Duval.
Had he permitted Madame Sabatier to teach the poet a greater whiteness,
His devotion and conception of the divinity of Beauty
would have suffered an absolute diminution.
The poet must be both Casanova and St.
He must be Adonis, Nero, Hippolytus, Heathcliff, and
Genghis Kahn, Genghis Cohen, and Gordon Martini
Dandy Ghandi and St.
Professor Tenure, and Dizzy the dean and Disraeli of Death.
He would have worn the horns of existence upon his head,
He would have perceived them regarding the looking-glass,
He would have needed them the way a moose needs a hatrack;
Above his heavy head and in his loaded eyes, black and scorched,
He would have seen the meaning of the hat-rack, above the glass
Looking in the dark foyer.
For the poet must become nothing but poetry,
He must be nothing but a poem when he is writing
Until he is absent-minded as the dead are
Forgetful as the nymphs of Lethe and a lobotomy.
("the fat weed that rots on Lethe wharf").
There’s not a leaf within the bower,—
There’s not a bird upon the tree,—
There’s not a dewdrop on the flower,—
But bears the impress, Lord, of Thee.
Thy power the varied leaf designed,
And gave the bird its thrilling tone;
Thy hand the dewdrops’ tints combined,
Till like a diamond’s blaze they shone.
Yes, dewdrops, leaves and buds, and all,—
The smallest, like the greatest things,—
The sea’s vast space, the earth’s wide ball,
Alike proclaim Thee, King of kings!But man alone, to bounteous Heaven,
Thanksgiving’s conscious strains can raise:
To favored man, alone, ’tis given,
To join the angelic choir in praise.