Reading Basho, I Notice the Cicadas

The tympanal clicks in the hottest hours

counting out a song in another language.

One of mating, and not of love,

that I know well and repeat myself

in the five seven of this poem.


Two Haiku by Basho

Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggests they
are about to die

Lonely silence,
a single cicada’s cry
sinking into stone



Poetry 101

WordPress offers an Intro to Poetry 101 freebie online “course” to inspire you to write 10 poems in 10 days. Really, it is just a very brief one-word prompt and some poetry suggestions.

Day One: Haiku, the Purest of Forms
The sashimi of poetry. Seventeen syllables channeling the essence of sound and meaning. Haiku.
A traditional Japanese form now popular around the world, Haiku come with a preset structure: three lines containing five, seven, and five syllables, respectively (or, in more modern haiku, three lines following the long-short-long pattern)

I don’t normally need much prompting to write, but it is good to get poked into writing once and awhile.  And though this site is devoted to ronka poems, a few haiku and other forms might slip in now.  Poems for this little side project will be tagged #poetry101 here, and you can see poems by others as part of this project at

Here is my day one water haiku.

Rainfall, petals fall
Water returns to sky
Plants back to earth

That Basho Frog

That Basho frog at the old pond –

I say it was an old pond.

That sound – a young, energetic diving frog.

Ancient pond, old water. Kerplunk. Frog ages.

Pond water ripples settle. Pond unchanged.



Basho’s frog haiku may be the most famous haiku. These three lines have been translated many times.

Furuike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

Fu-ru (old) i-ke (pond) ya,
ka-wa-zu (frog) to-bi-ko-mu (jumping into)
mi-zu (water) no o-to (sound)

– Literal Translation by Fumiko Saisho


The old pond-
a frog jumps in,
sound of water.

– Translated by Robert Hass