Bashō Variations

      by Steve McCaffery

The following three poems are from The Bashō Variations, Toronto, Ontario: BookThug, 2007. “A Lewis Carroll Bashō” is “for Jean-Jacques Lecercle” and is from page 52. “Hamlet’s Bashō” is from pages 58–59. And “Elegy Written by a Country Duck Pond” is from page 61.


A Lewis Carroll Bashō

Alice through the Looking-Pond

where no word means the same thing twice


Hamlet’s Bashō

To
jump
or
not
to
jump,
that
is
the
ques
tion;
wheth
er
’tis
no
bler
that
a
frog
should
suf
fer
the
waves
and
ripples
of
out
rage
ous
wa
ter
or
take
its
legs
in
to
a
pond
of
troub
le
and
by
de
scend
ing
wet
them.
To
swim,
per
chance
to
drown,
aye
there’s
the
rub.


Elegy Written by a Country Duck Pond

The curfew

tolls the

knell of

parting day,

The lowing

herd wind

slowly o’er

the lea;

a bullfrog

by its

pond decides

to stay,

but jumps

into it

unexpectedly.