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Per Diem for July 2018: Herpetofauna


Per Diem: Daily Haiku for July features guest-editor Linda Weir’s collection on the theme of Herpetofauna. This is what Linda offers by way of an introduction to her theme:

The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines herpetofauna as the reptiles and amphibians of a particular region, habitat, or geological period. It further explains the origin as from the Greek word herpeton or ‘creeping thing.’ This haiku collection celebrates these creeping things and features poems about reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles and such) and amphibians (frogs, toads, and salamanders). While these animals are often overlooked as mere creeping things, haiku poets since the beginning of this art have written about these creatures. Herpetofauna feature in one of the most famous of all haiku, Basho’s:

The old pond;
A frog jumps in —
The sound of the water.
(translator R.H. Blyth)

In this Per Diem series, I hope readers will enjoy this collection of modern day haiku featuring amphibians and reptiles. And I hope it will inspire more poets to appreciate and write about these special creeping things that share the world with us.


Stella Pierides is a writer and poet. Her books include "Of This World" (2017) and "In the Garden of Absence" (2012), both HSA Merit Book Award recipients. Her article “Parkinson’s Toolbox: The Case for Haiku” appeared in Juxtapositions: A Journal of Research and Scholarship in Haiku, issue 8, 2022.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. skink
    a bit of leaf litter
    darts away
    A Hundred Gourds 1:3, June 2012

    bush cemetery
    a snake slips into
    the shade
    A Hundred Gourds 2:2, March 2013

    1. Trilla thank you for your herpetofauna haiku. I’m a firefly haiku fan too and have seen YouTube video of what your poem describes.

  2. Thanks, Linda. These were nice, and I love the word “herpetofauna.”

    By the way, I looked up the Basho haiku in Jane Reichhold’s book Basho The Complete Haiku. She gave the following translation of the Basho haiku.

    old pond
    a frog jumps into
    the sound of water

    The difference is “into,” rather than “in.” She also gave this as an example of sense switching, one of Basho’s techniques. Reichhold also gave a literal translation of the poem, which shows that there is a pause after the first line, rather than the second. The “in” can also be read that way, but not as easily.

    Nevertheless, I still cling to “in,” but with a simpler third line.

    old pond
    a frog jumps in
    water sound

    1. Thanks Lee! I enjoy seeing all the different translations if Basho’s old pond haiku. I think the one you highlighted is excellent.
      For those interested in exploring this haiku and translation more, I’d suggest “One hundred frogs: from Renga to Haiku to English” by Hiroaki Sato.

      1. Martin thank you for these contributions to the herpetofaunal haiku theme!

  3. Hi Linda,
    I used to work with Australia’s National Vertebrate Collection, which included frogs and lizards. I enjoy reading and writing haiku about them. Looking forward to this month’s Per Diem selection! Cheers from Marietta

    frogs’ eyes
    in the pawpaw—
    housebound child
    —cattails, January 2016
    sun-warmed stones
    for the skink and me
    early spring
    —hedgerow: a journal of small poems, Issue #67 March 2016
    bright morning—
    one last scale peels
    from the snake’s eye
    —Creatrix Haiku #32, March 2016

    1. Hi Marietta – Thank you for sharing some of your herp haiku. I especially love your middle one with the warm stones enjoyed by you and the skink. I’ve got skinks that live in my front door steps and sun themselves there.

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