The Old Pond Poem by Matsuo Bash Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


This is a haiku. A haiku is a type of poetry from Japan that emphasises a fleeting instant in time and an epiphany. It is composed of three short lines and seventeen syllables. Typically, there are five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. There are just three images in this haiku poem. One is a still photo of an antiquated pond. The second one shows a frog leaping into a pond in a dramatic scene. The last visual representation is an audio one that shows the sound produced when a frog jumps into a pond. 

About the Poet

Matsuo Bash is regarded as one of Japan’s most significant poets of the Edo period, and his efforts to contribute to haiku poetry have made him one of the country’s most notable writers. In order to convey the spirit of life and the passing of the seasons in a few succinct words, he frequently concentrated his poems on the magnificence of the natural world. One of Bash?’s most well-known poems, “The Old Pond,” is a great illustration of his skill at expressing complicated feelings in straightforward words.


The phrase “The Old Pond” has seventeen syllables in total. Two phrases have two syllable counts: five in the first and seven in the second. Five syllables make up the last phrase.


Old pond...

a frog jumps in

water's sound

According to Fumiko Saisho’s translation, the haiku opens with the picture of the ancient pond. It can be far from any populated area or somewhere in a wilderness. No other sound is associated by Bash? with this image. Thus, the pond is most likely far away, in peace and quiet. It’s also quite old. It is an ancient organism that has withstood the test of time. The pond is a sage, burdened by the experience of the long years. In some way, the poet identifies with this pond. Their nature is intimately connected. Both are content and quiet. It appears that the ancient pond represents the subconscious. Everyone have it. Similar to the ancient pond, it is silent. In addition, the poet alludes to an elderly person’s subconscious. The poet himself is clearly the old man in this instance.

A frog abruptly disturbs the peace in the pond. It doesn’t begin to croak according to normal. The frog just leaps into the water. The frog jumps into the pond, but why? Before reaching this haiku’s climax, one must first ask themselves this question. Since it’s not monsoon season, the frog may have leaped into the pond for purposes other than breeding or laying eggs. It is evident that the frog acts on its innate impulse. The pond’s water seemed to revitalise the frog. As a result, it leaps into the pond on its own volition, free from any internal chemical reaction or biological drive. A person requires comfort in order to give him peace of mind and time, much like the frog. The frog plunging into the pool of water can therefore be interpreted as a metaphor for meditation.

The sound enters the picture in an intriguing way in the haiku’s final line. There is no artificial sound. Sound is produced in response to an outside input. The frog makes a brief, static sound when it leaps into the water. It’s not high-pitched. It isn’t deep, though. The sound of the water has a medium-toned quality. The melody awakens the poet’s mind, but it doesn’t cause him to lose focus. Rather, it deepens his stupor and propels him on. It can be viewed from several angles.


In just three lines, Matsuo Bash?’s haiku “The Old Pond” conjures up a striking image. An “old pond,” which alludes to a body of water steeped in time and possibly history, sets the atmosphere at the outset. This calm is broken in the second sentence when “a frog jumps in.” The last sentence emphasises the sound, “water’s sound,” evoking the splash and ripple brought on by the frog’s leap.

The haiku, despite its seeming simplicity, encourages closer inspection. The frenetic movement of the frog and the old, quiet pond give a sense of impermanence and transformation. The sound of the running water could be interpreted as a wake-up call or as a constant reminder of life’s constant flow. The haiku’s ultimate beauty is its capacity to provoke unique readings and instill in the reader a sense of silent reflection.

This is only one interpretation; the beauty of haiku is in its capacity to arouse in each reader a distinct set of feelings and ideas.