Bashō’s haiku 300 in Japanese and English by L. P. Lovee (11)~(20)  


If you understand the Japanese language, please read the Japanese version of this site so that you may appreciate Bashō’s haiku more deeply.


・春かぜやきせるくはえて船頭殿   (11/300)

  (harukaze-ya kiseru-kuwaete sendō-dono)



          spring breeze_

          a pipe in his mouth

          Mr. boatman



          a pipe in his mouth,

          Mr. boatman_

          spring breeze



         a pipe in his mouth,

         mister boatman is smoking;

         a breeze in springtime


(C) is a translation by Mr. John White. The 5-7-5 syllable fails to satisfy the merits of Japanese haiku, that is, the brevity is neglected.

(A) and (B) are translations by L.P. Lovee. (A) is translated in the order of Japanese words described in the original haiku, while (B) is translated in a different word order to emphasize “kire”, an important factor of Japanese haiku.



・青柳の泥にしだるる潮干かな    (12/300)

   (aoyagi-no doro-ni-shidaruru shiohi-kana)



      the green willow trees

      are dripping into the mud

   now the tide is out



      the green willow tree

      drooping to the mud_

      the ebb tide


(A) is a mistranslation by Mr. John White.

(B) is a correct translation by L.P. Lovee.



・ほととぎす消え行く方や島一つ  (13/300) 

 (hototogisu kieyuku-kata-ya shima-hitotsu)



          where a small cuckoo

          disappeared in the distance

          a single island



           in the distance where

    a little cuckoo disappearing,

           a single island



(A) (“575” translation) is wrong in translation of “消え行く” (kie-yuku), which means “disappearing”, not “disappeared”.


(Note) The translation of Mr. John White is referred to as a “575 tranlation” hereinafter。



・世ににほへ梅花一枝のみそさざい  (14/300)

(yoni-nioe baika-isshino misosazai)


(A) (575 translation)


        sweet-scented world;

        on a branch of plum blossom

        a wren is perching   



        Be fragrant in the world!

        a wren

        on a branch of plum blossom   


(A) is wrong particularly in the translation of “世ににほへ” , which is an imperative form.



・古池や蛙飛びこむ水の音   (15/300)

 (furuike-ya kawazu-tobikomu mizu-no-oto)



          by an ancient pond

          a frog leaping into it

          the sound of water



          The old pond;

      A frog jumps in_

      The sound of the water.    



           a sound of a frog

           jumping into water_

           the old pond


(A) a 575 translation. (B) and (C) are translated respectively by Mr. Robert Aitken and L.P. Lovee.



・初真桑四にや断ン輪に切ン  (16/300)

(hatsu-makuwa yotsu-niya-tatan wani-kiran)



            the year’s first melon;

            how should i cut it; in four

            or in round slices



            shall I cut in four

            or in round slices?

            the season’s first melon


(A) is a 575 translation.  (B) is translated by L.P. Lovee.



・五月雨に鶴の足みじかくなれり  (17/300)

 (samidare-ni tsuru-no-ashi mijikaku-nareri)



        heavy summer rain

 has caused the cranes’ legs

 to be very much shorter



       the rain of rainy season

       has made the cranes’ legs

look shortened



the legs of cranes

look shortened_

the seasonal rain


(A) is a 575 translation.  (B) and (C) are Lovee’s translations.



・潮越や鶴はぎぬれて海涼し   (18/300)

 (shiogoshi-ya tsuruhagi-nurete umi-suzushi)



          crossing at low tide

   the legs of the cranes are wet

   with the sea’s coolness



   carrying out “shiogoshi”,

   with their bare legs wet_

   the cool sea



          at the “shiogoshi”

          my bare legs are wet_

   the cool sea


“潮越” (shiogoshi) means “leading seawater into a place” or “a place where seawater is led”.

(A) is wrong because “鶴脛” (tsuruhagi) means a “bare leg”, not a “leg of a crane”.

(B) and (C) are Lovee’s translations. 



さざれ蟹足はひのぼる清水哉   (19/300)

   (sazaregani ashi-hainoboru shimizu-kana)



a very small crab

has found its way up my leg

in clear stream water



a tiny crab

creeps up on my leg_

the clear water


(A) is a 575 translation.  (B) is a Lovee’s translation.



・原中や物にもつかず鳴雲雀   (20/300)

(haranaka-ya mononimo-tsukazu naku-hibari)


          (A) (575 translation) 

           out over the plain

           free of any attachment,

           the sky larks, singing



           over the field

           without clinging to anything,

           a skylark singing


(A) is wrong. (B) is a Lovee’s translation.