The above picture is Matsuo Basho's Frog Haiku, possibly the most famous haiku in the world. Basho lived in the 16oo's and wrote many classic haikus but his best known is this one, written below phonetically. Go ahead, speak it outloud and hear the poetry of it for yourself.
I'll provide a translation. The thing is though, there's not just one. There are as many as thirty different translations of this poem, each one trying to get to the heart of what Basho was trying to convey. Here's the most literal of the translations:
But other translators attempted to not just translate the literal meaning of the words but to expand on what they thought Basho's original idea was. Some of my favorite translations are below.
Translated by Earl Miner & Hiroko Odagiri
Translated by Peter Beilenson
ancient is the pond —
Okay, so that last one takes a few liberties but the point is still the same. Notice how each different translation brings to mind a slightly different picture? The power of words can be very subtle.