The Old Pond

The Old Pond

by Matsuo Basho

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

(Translated by Robert Hass)

Summary of The Old Pond

  • Popularity of “The Old Pond”: Written by a well-known Japanese classic poet, Matsuo Basho, this beautiful and concise Haiku from 1686 during the heydays of the poet. He composed more than 1,000 haikus in Japanese, with several making names in the poetry through translation. The beauty of this haiku lies in the unusual presentation of nature. The popularity, however, of the poem lies in its presentation of images.
  • “The Old Pond” As a Representative of the Images of Nature: The poet has presented an old pond where the frogs are jumping in the water. The water is making a sound such that it mingles with the sound of a jumping frog. The freedom that this old pond has provided to the frogs merges with their action of jumping into the water, and the merger of the sounds of the water and the frog shows the deep and minute observation of the poet.
  • Major Themes in “The Old Pond”: Freedom in nature, love for nature, and interaction of living things with nature are major themes of the poem. Although the poem is very short and concise, it presents three powerful images. The first image is that of an old pond where only a frog has the freedom to move. The second image is of the frog enjoying freedom by showing its agility through its jumps into the water, and the third image is of the sound of the splash of the water that it creates. This shows that nature provides full freedom. The images also show the poet’s love for nature and the freedom of the frog, and the sound of water shows how nature interacts with living things.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in The Old Pond

Matsuo Basho used various literary devices to beautify his poem. The analysis of some of the major literary devices is given below.

  1. Allusion: It means to use references from society, history, or culture to stress the main idea. The poet used allusions to zoology, such as a frog.
  2. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /o/ in “The old pond–” and again the sound of /o/ in the “sound of water.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /d/ in “The old pond–.”
  4. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Matsuo Basho used imagery in this poem, such as “The old pond–”, “a frog jumps in” and “sound of water.”
  5. Personification: It means to attribute human emotions to inanimate objects. The poet has used the personification of the water in that it creates or produces sound.
  6. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as a pond, frog, and water to show the poet’s love for nature.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in The Old Pond

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows good use of formal and imagist diction.
  2. Free Verse: It means using poetry without any restriction of meter or rhyme. This is a free-verse poem.
  3. Poem: This is a three-line or verse poem called haiku.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. This is a single-stanza poem.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a natural and inscrutable tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when talking about a natural scene.

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