the translation trap

When translating Japanese haiku into English it is often hard to avoid making them more explicit then they are in the original. Translations that stop short of "explaining" the haiku have often to be very short of syntax. Compare the literal working of this haiku by Bashō (1644–1694) with the way "sense has been made of it" in English.

N.B. even "they" in the first line is an invention of the translator's — the Japanese word hito is both singular and plural and says nothing about gender; he doesn't or she doesn't are just as valid as they don't.

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