to the small poem and the quiet voice within

norbert blei | variations on basho’s frog

Painting by Lucha of Arcadia aka Marie Skrobot, Ellison Bay, WI, USA

Variations on Bashō’s Frog

Editor’s note: I’ve been collecting variations on the theme of Bashō’s crow for many years (on a withered branch/a crow has settled/autumn nightfall) and just recently came across variations on Bashō’s frog. I thought I would share a few with you.


If the three essentials in my favorite are branch/crow/autumn, here we have pond, frog, splash. – Norbert Blei

Furu ike ya
Kawaza tobikomu
Mizu no oto

(The Original, in Japanese)

The old pond,
A frog jumps in:

(translated by Alan Watts)

Into the ancient pond
A frog jumps
Water’s sound!

(trans. D.T. Suzuki)

Old pond—frog jumped in—sound of water.

(trans. Lafcadio Hearn)

An old pond—
The sound
Of a diving frog.

(trans. Kenneth Rexroth)

Old pond
a frog.

(trans. Lucien Stryk)

old pond
frog leaping

(trans. Cid Corman)

The old pond
A frog jumped in,

(trans. Allen Ginsberg)


(trans. James Kirkup)



  1. David Dix

    would not
    could not


  2. Gar

    into old pond
    the frog.

  3. Nancy

    I am lucky to live next door to a pond which a haiku frog occasionally visits, and one occasionally settles in for a time. We land-dwellers on the shore never really know what is beneath the water. Thanks for this posting of poems and the painting.

  4. Leonard Cirinoq

    Thanks Norb,

    Some good things here — not none like the original I don’t think, best, leo

  5. jean

    Re: Painting
    Who sez: “No frog is an island”?

  6. Marie Skrobot

    I thank you
    and The Frog thanks you


  7. jim kacian

    hi norb

    thanks for this
    let me recommend hiro sato’s wonderful book One Hundred Frogs, which collects quite a few more than a hundred variants of the frog poem (and also serves as an excellent primer on renga)
    let me also recommend frogments from the frag pool, by barwin and beaulieu, for a deconstructionist version of the same motive
    both are excellent reads, if a bit hard to find
    thanks for the reminder to dip into these again


  8. Mark Southard

    Gotta love that frog !

  9. Donald O'Donovan

    Pond–frog—plop! Who couldn’t love it? Thanks, Norb!

  10. Don

    Wonderful to revisit all these delightful variations of an original gem. Don

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