Thursday, November 23, 2006

Baho's Pond Revisited

The poetry of Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is famous for capturing something of the flavor of Zen in deceptively simple verses.

In the West, the most famous of his poems is known as "Basho's Pond" which records in few words the moment a frog hops and plops into a scummy green pond of water -- and the world is suddenly changed into what it always has been.

If you are not familiar with this haiku, here is a place you can parse 30 translations as well as a commentarty by Robert Aitken. The most common translation used is probably R. H. Blyth's:
The old pond;
a frog jumps in —
the sound of the water.
Basho's Pond Revisited

There've been rumors going 'round
that "Basho's Pond"
Will soon re-open under new management!

"Tell us when it opens!" they say
with bated breath...

A little old man, wrinkled like a prune,
seemingly asleep in the corner,
interupts his snoring to mumble:

"It's open everyday,
The address is but
half a heartbeat away...

Basho's Pond,
the scummy green water quivers,
out plops an old frog...
Haiku lovers forgive me, "Basho's Pond Revisited" is but my heavy handed attempt to impress the reader with awareness of one of the more radical of Zen insights -- that everything is contained in everything...

2 comments:

The TechnoBabe said...

Everything is contained in everything and everything is connected, so ALL is connected, including nature and human and space.

JamesRaven introduced me to Haiku.
Really like the "address is but half a heartbeat away".

That's a great dwelling place. Sounds like my kind of wanna-be residence.

Chuck Cliff said...

I'll have get off my butt and look this up, I think it is in D.T. Susuki's "Essay's on Zen Buddhism".

The thing is, William Blake has some verses which parallel this insight -- I'll have to look that up also.

The interesting with Blake is that he was sort of a follower of Emanuel Swedenborg, the Swedish multi-genius.

The salient feature here is that one of the first books Susuki wrote was about -- Swedenborg, the title calls S., The Buhhdha of the North.

Jeeze, if I put my money where my mouth is, this means I'll actually have to do research in books, yeech!