"An old silent pond" by Matsuo Basho - Haiku

Haiku’s have a very rigid format. It must be three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables. “An old silent pond” is among one of the world’s most famous haikus and was created by one of its earliest practitioners, Matsuo Basho.

With such limiting features, haikus must be incredibly concise and deep to convey any meaning at all. Taken literally, “An old silent pond” wouldn’t mean much. Instead, the context of the poem must be examined. The writer, the time period and other factors must be considered in order to obtain the full meaning of poem.

Basho’s haikus are meant to be dramatic, exaggerating humor, depression and other feelings. Basho also uses his haikus to emphasize human’s smallness in relief to the greatness of nature’s power. By casting the pond as ancient and “old” , Basho makes it larger than life. The pond is a relic, something that is there and will always be there. The frog represents life and no matter how much he disturbs the water, there is still “Silence” in the end. Humans are but a splash in the ancient history of nature.

An old silent pond...
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.


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