For a Frog
By Pat Lawrence
Table of Contents
Title Page 1
Table of Contents 2
For a Frog
Author’s Note 7
Works Cited 9
Looking behind itself, this
book finds its pollywog somewhere in the vicinity of Raymond Federman, without whom it could not have existed. It also is,
somehow, for Hollis, though I’m not sure how. I hope he won’t mind.
Furu ike ya
For a Frog
tensely extending being
grit of exhaust fumes
The Pell Mell Sound of Raymond Federman’s More Shoes
and Smelly Socks—An Introductory Haiku
The ancient pond
A frog jumps in
The pell mell sound of the water.
I wish for Jared Demick’s
sake that I could have transmitted this story orally.
1. The poem here presented,
dating from 1686, is one of Basho’s most famous. It has its own life in the Japanese (here transliterated, of course,
a first act of translation), but the exercise of translation into English has produced a sparkling array of texts not unlike
the beads of water suggested by the frog’s jump. The complexity produced in the act of translation—of even a simple 17 syllables, suggests the provocative power of the paradox as the underpinnings
of the paratactic nature of the haiku. So much is left unsaid, we presume, that versions proliferate in the process of reading
The haiku must therefore
be a readerly genre that demonstrates the activation of an infinite excess of its own meaning in each person who attempts
to reconstruct it in his or her own words. This form, by saying little, suggests how difficult it is to pin language down
to what it expresses. It seems to do more that express, or maybe to do so only imperfectly. Poetry demonstrates that this
can be a source of pleasure, not (only) of consternation.
There is an unchainedness,
then, less in the haiku itself than in the chronicle of its 325-year life.
The act of translation
has not been undertaken with respect to this epigraph, except to the extent that, as mentioned above, transliteration does
“take over” meaning.I
I. As is often
noted, the verb “to translate” has multiple connotations—they proliferate, too—especially as one traces
its etymology. One of those connotations is “to convey” an object. I read this very liberally here to arrive at
the sense of “take over”—making use of the partial synonymy between an idiomatic use take and the conventional sense of convey. To wit, the following two
phrases are synonymous: “I will convey to you to your friend’s house” and “I will take you over to
your friend’s house.” Thus, the verbs to convey and take over have the same meaning. Makes perfect sense.١
١. No it doesn’t.
Raymond. More Loose Shoes and Smelly Socks. 2nd ed. Ed. Pat Lawrence.
York: Replenishment Books, 2008. Print.
Basho: 4, 6, 8, 10
Demick, Jared: 7, 10
Federman, Raymond: 3, 6,
Hollis: 3, 10
I: 3, 7, 8, 10
Lawrence, Pat: 1, 9, 10
McCaffery, Larry: 6, 10