Arco (TN)

Arco (TN)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Reciting Frogs - Haibun - October 3, 2014

For Carpe Diem Haiku Kai we look at, among other haiku, at Sokan's "reciting frogs"!

Frogs are delightful creatures, but for some reason I've never had much to do with them and have rarely observed them.  However, when I lived in Asmara, which at the time was still Ethiopia, my house was in a compound in the middle of a field.  There were, for reasons I do not know, lots of holes dug in the country-side around the compound and these holes inevitably filled up with water during the rainy season.
Frogs soon colonized the artificial ponds.  In the evenings a virtual frog concert  started with sun-set.  At first they reminded me of something out of a science-fiction movie.  They sounded like space ships from a 1950s B movie with a whirling sort of sound.  
Every once in a while though, there seemed to a soloist, one would croak out by himself , a sort of "froggy" Pavarotti,  then the others would set in again. Of course, then they reminded me of an Italian opera.  So although I never actually went out to observe the frogs, they became a part of my life.

"ridi pagliaccio"
in open field water holes
the bull frog sings


furuike ya kawazu tobikamu mizu no do

the old pond:
a frog jumps in, -
the sound of the water

© Basho (Tr. R.H.Blyth)

te wo tsuite uta moshiaguru kawaza kana

placing his hands on the ground,
the frog respectfully recites
his poem

© Sokan (Tr. R.H. Blyth)

Behind the second haiku is the image of an aristocrat: 

"... the costume of the aristocracy of Old Japan, the full aptness of the comparison is lost. He is dressed in the Japanese style with his kamishimo, stiffly sticking out and exaggerating the shoulders. Bowing low from the squatting posture, he begins his recitation in a strangely frog-like, sepulchral voice."
 danro kounotori no sakebi no maede kaeru no kareno seishitsunitaishite

against his nature, 
a frog in front of the fireplace -
the cry of a stork 

© Yozakura


  1. Haha, it is true that the bullfrog has a deep voice. For years as a young child, I thought the mooing I heard by the river in back of our house were cows across the river because the sound on the water echoed. Boy did I feel silly when I discovered they were the bullfrogs

    1. They really are loud ... though I never mistook them for cow, no cows nearby ;-)

  2. Ah.... to have a backyard Pavarotti would be wonderful!!!! One of those once-in-a-lifetime voices.
    ....come to think of it ... Pavarotti *did* look a bit like a bullfrog ... hmmm....!

    Great haibun -- you've painted a scene of great beauty -- with just the right touch of humor!!

    1. He probably would have frowned if he'd have seen how I used his Pagliaccio. Glad you enjoyed my walk back into Africa.


harmonious words ... like crystal clear water ... pure ectasy

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