frog hops through
h/t to my son Pete, who overheard Ann and I last night talking about the first line, and he pipes up "mold pond?" Which was fortuitously misheard, really, since I'd been trying to figure out how, exactly, I might communicate the imagination I had of Basho's pond. It's a quiet space (quiet enough, naturally, for the quiet sound of water to make itself heard), shaded with filtered sunlight at certain slants, humid and cool, mossy and moldy, etc., etc. It's important to allow the reader access to that space, I think, since Basho's circumstance would have been very local and very particular, and, too, would have relied upon his audience's knowledge of that locality and that particularity. Translation is, as Bottom the Weaver lets us know, a transportation, and I'm curious and zealous enough to transport myself to Basho's pond, to that Japanese coolness and humidity, that sanctified habitat of Basho's eye and ear. There needs be indication of that foreign locale, both the linguistic (mizu no oto) and the specific (the moss, the bamboo, the surround of environment). "Mold" might not be a perfect vehicle, but I'm damn glad to have a son around to eavesdrop--it's gotten me thinking in new lines.
Also! The troubling western connotations of "leap" (i.e., Kierkegaard; i.e., faith and all) tend to leach into the Japanese tobikomu (which, I'm discovering, has its own strange etymology [?? does one call the combinations of kanji "etymology"? See--told you I'm no Japanese scholar...]). Hmm. Maybe I'll have to chat with someone who knows what it is I want to talk about... Still, I've got issues with "leap" anymore, but don't like "hop" or "jump" much better.