Canadian variant of Basho’s Old Pond haiku
the beaver pond...
a frog leaps -
To head off criticisms that I should not have said plop! and then ... splash!, think about it. When a small amphibian such as a frog leaps into water, the first sound we hear is plop!... and then splash!
l’étang des castors ...
la grenouille y saute -
plouf ! grand plouf !
You can compare this with 32 translations of the Old Pond haiku, here:
summer haiku d’été - common loons = plongeons huards
pierce the moon
fantômes qui hurlent
percent la lune
Commentary on the rhythm and format of Canadian haiku:
In my view, the rhythm and assonance of haiku should be poetic, otherwise the haiku is not poetry.
Moreover, the so-called 5-7-5 syllable convention = 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second and 5 syllables in the third line is not valid whatsoever, because it does not exist in Japanese. Haiku should be free form, allowing anywhere from 7 or 8 to 17 syllables. For instance, in the common loons haiku in English above, we have 3-4-3 = 10 syllables. And since the grammar and syntax of different languages is never the same, the same haiku in French runs to 4-4-3 = 11 syllables, which is scarcely surprising. All too many haijin (haiku poets) try to force their haiku into the strict framework of so-called 5-7-5, with the result that many of their haiku sound stilted and unnatural.
This is especially of translations of Japanese haiku, the most famous of which is the “frog in the pond” haiku of Matsuo Basho (1644-1694). Here are 3 translations of his haiku, one bad in 5-7-5 format and 2 good ones in free format:
Pond, there, still and old!
A frog has jumped from the shore.
The splash can be heard.
Failures in this translation:
first line: insertion of the words “there” and “still” to flush out the line
second line: “has jumped”, past tense & “from the shore” is not found in the original Japanese haiku at all!
third line: in the passive voice
Trans. Eli Siegel
Trans. Cid Corman
the old pond,
a frog jumps in:
Trans. Alan Watts
Original haiku in Japanese:
Furu ike ya
mizu no oto
This looks like 5-7-5 syllables, but as you can see for yourself in the original haiku in the kanji script, there are actually only 3 kanji characters in the first line, with 5 in the second line and 3 in the third for a total of just 11. So the so-called 5-7-5 strict formula is blown out of the water!
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