I, Basho, sit in a rigor, fond.
No plop, ol’ pond? No frog? I ran
It is – oh! – sabi.
Notes and comments
Fond: Used here in its archaic sense of foolish
Sabi: A Japanese word with no simple translation. An important aesthetic concept in Japanese art and life, it denotes a kind of elegant, refined simplicity with implications of solitude and antiquity.
Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is Japan’s most famous and beloved of haiku poets.
This haikiah was inspired by his most well-known haiku
furu ike ya
mizu no oto
Which translates fairly literally as
Old pond –
A frog dives in
The sound of water
In a twist, I imagine Basho sitting by the pond again, on another day, waiting for a frog to plop, but becoming overwhelmed by the lonely beauty of the scene as no frog appears.