That day a dark, vermillion, winter sky,
like a Turner water-colour, was seen
reflected in an old pond where, nearby,
the poet Basho watched a small, unclean
and speckled frog jump in the evening air
and meet the water with a gentle plop,
an almost soundless splash, a plash near where
the other sounds of twilight seemed to stop
as Basho, without writing, memorised
that gentle movement and, with a wry smile,
acknowledged to himself he had devised
a way to turn a frog into a style.


Poet’s note:
So: this is my version of Basho’s frog.
Go: post your comments on my briefpoems blog.



Conor Kelly was born in Dublin and spent his adult life teaching in a school in the Dublin suburbs. He now lives in a rural area of West Clare in Ireland from where he manages his twitter site, @poemtoday, dedicated to the short poem. He has had poems printed in Irish, British, American and Mexican magazines. He was shortlisted for a Hennessy New Irish Writers award.

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6 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    A wonderfully evocative poem about the origins of a wonderful form.

  2. Leo Zoutewelle

    Conor, I agree with Joe.
    Joe, you so frequently write my thoughts, before I thought of them. Way to go! 🙂

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    The original haiku can be seen at Conor Kelly’s website and blog, along with many English renderings of the poem.

  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I like this clever and quirky execution of the sonnet form, and I really like the images created in this thoroughly engaging poem, especially the ‘dark, vermillion, winter sky, // like a Turner water-colour’. I’m a fan of Turner and nature, so this image is a real treat for me. I’ve also learned a new word – the delicious onomatopoeic “plash”. You’ve used it to great effect in internal rhyme, and I’ve simply got to steal it for a future poem. Thank you for my afternoon smile.

  5. Margaret Coats

    Your page on Basho’s Frog is a wealth of information on this most celebrated haiku. I’ll say thanks with a brief poem I think you’ll like, from Lady Margaret Sackville. The title is “Gratias”

    A shop fresh painted; tulips; a gay toy;
    Sun-gilded roofs; balloons; a smiling face;
    Pigeons–all these, the petty cash of joy,
    Are things for which my thankful soul says grace.


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