Tag Archives: Poem

frog in water

The sound of water

The Sound of Water, in English

An old pond and

A frog leaps in,

Sound of water!

frog in water

Basho’s poem

A well known poem by Matsuo Basho (松尾 芭蕉, 1644–1694) describing the sound of water. Even this simple haiku can have multiple translations. Sometimes the last line,  水の音, Mizu no oto, is simplified to “splash”. If one tries to be literal, then the line goes 水, mizu, water and の音, no oto, of sound. This works out to be “water’s sound” or the “sound of water”. Gramatically this is reverse of the French construction, “Le bruit de l’eau!”

We all interpret poems differently. My take is that Basho is laughing at the idea of water speaking when a frog jumps in.

Late in life, overcome with the loss of his mother and life in general, Bashō left Edo (Tokyo) and took to traveling alone on the Edo Five Routes. In 17th century Japan, these higways were thought to be full of thieves and bandits and considered dangerous. At first Bashō expected, if not hoped, to die in some forgotten spot. However, as his journey progressed, his mood improved, and Bashō met friends and grew to enjoy the scenery along the route.

Eventually, Basho returned to Edo where in 1686, he wrote this poem.



古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音

Furuike ya/ Kawazu tobikomu/ Mizu no oto


Un âgé étang et
Une grenouille bonde,
Le bruit de l’eau!

black crow clouds


Note to self:
A vrai dire peu de paroles.
My vocation is not to get your approbation
That’s a mission for a politician, to get your vote
Ce que chante la corneille, chante le corneillon.

black crow clouds

What’s a Grecian urn?

It is an old joke told in Vaudeville days:

What’s a Grecian urn?
25 bucks a day unless he owns the restaurant.*


“La beauté est la vérité, beauté vérité, c’est tout
Vous savez sur cette terre, et seul ce que vous devez savoir.

The low-brow joke is made the funnier by its understood reference to John Keats’ poem Ode on a Grecian Urn whose last two lines are often quoted for the purpose of enjoying the mysteries of life without understanding them.

Ode sur une Urne Grecque

Ô toi! encore mariée vierge de la calme,
Ô toi! enfant recueillie du silence et du temps lent,
Sylvestre historien, qui peut ainsi exprimer
Un récit fleuri plus doucement que notre rime:
Quelle légende frangée de feuilles hante ta forme
Des divinités ou des mortels, ou des deux,
Dans les Temples ou les vallons d’Arcady?
Quels sont les hommes ou les dieux?
Quelles vierges résistent?
Quelle poursuite folle? Quelle lutte pour échapper?
Quelles pipes et timbrels? Quelle extase sauvage?

Les mélodies entendues sont douces,
mais celles qui ne sont pas entendues
Sont plus doux; par conséquent,
vous, les tuyaux mous, jouer sur;
Pas à l’oreille sensuelle, mais, plus proche,
Pipe à l’esprit des dieux d’aucun ton:
Juste la jeunesse, sous les bois, tu ne peux pas partir
Ton chant, jamais ces bois ne peuvent être nus;
Amant audacieux,
jamais, tu ne peux jamais embrasser,
Bien que gagnant près du but, ne vous affligez pas;
Elle ne peut pas disparaître,
bien que tu n’as pas ta béatitude,
A jamais tu aimeras et elle sera belle!

…à qui tu dis,
“La beauté est la vérité, beauté vérité, c’est tout
Vous savez sur cette terre, et seul ce qui vous devez savoir.

*Greeks immigration to New York City was the result of a general Turkish genocide of of the Christian Ottoman Greek population (and Armenians) during World War I and the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922. The Greek Turkish conflict has been a long one. In 1824, fellow poet Lord George Gordon Byron died at the young age of 36 in what is now Greece, where he had gone in support of the Greek struggle for independence from Ottoman Turkey. Predeceasing him in death was Keats, who died of tuberculosis on 23 February 1821 in Rome. He was twenty-five years old.

Mr. Nobody

skydivingNobodiness is a malady
That affects almost everybody.
Won’t somebody tell everybody,
Sir or madam, as the case may be,
Won’t you please, please, please
Say a kind word to me

It is bloody hell being a nobody
One damn day after another

Some things are lost in translation.

Les nullités sont seuls modestes.

Nur die Lumpen sind bescheiden.

To be or not the bee

To be or not the bee


Let it be Rosemarie

Don’t read this, it’s meant
Just for me and not for you
Who stumbled on this poem
Just by accident.

Like Rosemarie
Who smelled a pretty red, red rose
Dreaming of her handsome sweet, sweet love
And so, was stung by a bee

Was it on her lip or on her nose?
I’ll let you guess
What became
Of Rosemarie, her love and the bee

Comme ce soit c’est fois

Ne lisez pas cela
C’est seul pour moi
Pas pour toi
Qui a arrive a ce poème
Juste par accidentellement
Comme Rosemarie
Qui sentait une rose rouge rouge
Rêver de son amour doux doux
Et a été piqué par une abeille
Était-ce sur sa lèvre ou nez?
Je vous laisse deviner



Lost in Buenos Aires



Toma un descanso,


Abre tus ojos

Ahora cuente hacia atrás de tres …

Dos, uno.

Tienes quince años, niño inmaculado y

En absoluto lo que tu madre piensa

Solo ir a caminar

En una calle oscura

Se ve la pulperia

Estaba abierto, estaba cerrado

¿Qué secretos estaba dentro,

Mama mia

Te preguntas…

Que te costará


Take a moment,


Open your eyes

Now count backwards from three…

You’re fifteen, spotless child and

Not at all what your mother thinks

She sent you to the mini-mart

And along the way you saw the pulperia

Was it open, was it closed

What secrets lay inside, mama mia

You wonder…

What will it cost


The woods are not quiet. It seems still and quiet because the sounds are different from the noise of the city. Listen and you will hear the rambling creek as it chatters with the stones, the birds up above darting in and out the branches, the squirrels in the leaves, all talking about the strange being:

Who shouldn’t be where he is but is.

1-path-2There is no reason
I stopped
My car to walk
Down a shady path
Do I need a reason to walk?
Underneath the trees
And talk to the babbling brook
It could be spring or fall
It matters not at all
But to get away
And look and listen
For nothing at all
And everything
For birds that sing
For squirrels that scamper
And announce the coming
Of a strange being
Who doesn’t belong
Out in the woods

Look at the beauty
Of a path in the woods
Meandering left and right
Lit by the light of the sun
Through the towering trees
On a dusty old path of memories
Like my scatterbrained thoughts
That go nowhere
But straight to my heart

Tiny mushrooms

Pretty little mushrooms on the forest floor, such a beauty to behold. If you look, you will see baby mushrooms, tiny sprouts, little bubbles from the earth. From above, white parachutes softly landing, from the side, white umbrellas carried gaily by a Geisha. In a Polynesian tiki cocktail a delightful twirling thing of fun.

magical, mysterious mushrooms

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly…
Sylvia Plath says
About the mushroom’s
Mysterious ways
Here one moment
Gone the next
Was it eaten
Was it beaten
Trampled by
A weary traveler
Too tired to care


Dans la nuit, très
Sombre, discrètement,
Très silencieusement…
Sylvia Plath dit
Des champignons s’épanouir
Pour le moment, puis passé…