Writing Technique: Switching Senses

Written for:  Carpe Diem #939, Old Pond

old pond
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

In this haiku Basho uses the “sense switching” technique, a technique which we have seen in our second series of haiku writing techniques last year.

This is a favorite of the Japanese poetry masters, but one they used with a great deal of discretion. It is simply to speak of the sensory aspect of a thing and then change in another sensory organ. Usually it involves hearing something one sees, or switching between seeing and tasting.

In the haiku by Basho, this very famous “old pond” the frog not only jumps into the water but also into the sound of water. The mind-puzzle that this haiku creates is how to separate the frog from the water, the sound of water from the water, the frog from the sound it will make entering water, and the sound from the old pond. It cannot be done because all these factors are one, but the reader arrives at this truth through having the senses scrambled.

jasmine blossoms
ride on the shoulder of the spring breeze
smell the wind

© Chèvrefeuille (our host)

Here is my attempt:

splash into the lake
a weeping willow


About purplepeninportland

I am a freelance poet, born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. I live with my husband, John, and two charming rescue dogs–Marion Miller and Murphy. We spent eight lovely years in Portland, OR, but are now back in New York. My goal is to create and share poetry with others who write, or simply enjoy reading poetry. I hope to touch a nerve in you, and feel your sparks as well.
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6 Responses to Writing Technique: Switching Senses

  1. kim881 says:

    Mm, willows. I have two in my garden and they are beautiful. A lovely classic haiku 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thotpurge says:

    Lovely image..


  3. Oh my goodness. What a tender image!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah ! That’s a lofty one ! Wo nderful !


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