Goran Gatalica’s Tadpoles

starlight —
the tadpoles vanish
in a blurry pond

Goran Gatalica (Croatia)

Under the Basho, (modern haiku), March 2019

This haiku resonates with the things that don’t get a lot of importance in our lives. The opening line ‘starlight’ symbolizes two aspects in the context of this poem.

– It glows but remains unnoticed, especially when the stars are far away from the earth.

– A light dot that is mysterious in many ways.

The tadpoles depict the initial stages of life when things remain insignificant and mysterious, like the tiny stars that are in fact huge.

The blurry pond may symbolize our limited vision and perception of not seeing things beyond their looks. We don’t go into the depth of things that look small in shape and size.

The starlight and tadpoles in a blurry pond lose their impact and significance once they lose their reflection.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

This is one of those haiku that takes us by surprise with its juxtaposition. At first, we might be puzzled by the comparison or contrast being made.

Starlight can take many light years to travel into our view. Also, if we look directly at a distant star, due to it being so far and surrounded by darkness, it can escape our vision after a while.

This all might relate to tadpoles vanishing in a blurry pond. Tadpoles are very small and are hard to spot in a body of water, like stars in the sky. We can easily lose track of them. Plus, the next time we see the tadpoles that we saw before, they might have grown up as a frog or toad. This length of time connects to the duration it takes starlight to travel into our perception.

In another way, the haiku could be presenting a contrast. Tadpoles are larvae and new to life, whereas starlight may be luminescence from a star that has already died. Yet, the shape of a tadpole and starlight are very similar. So, the aesthetic of “as above, so below” in Japanese poetry is demonstrated.

There is a lot of sound in this poem to notice, though it is small. Check out how each line has “l” sounds. There is also a prevalence of “r”s and “p”s. Not only does this make the haiku more musical and a joy to read, but these consonants give the reading more weight.

The format works well, which has the standard pacing of English-language haiku. The dash in the first line gives a clear cut between the two parts of the poem, allowing the reader to easily see a juxtaposition is being made.

Overall, this is a subtle haiku that can swing from being a comparison to contrast in imagery, which can bring about the feeling of connection between mundane life and the cosmos.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

If you enjoyed this haiku and commentary, let us know in the comments.


– “Starlight Night” by Georgia O’Keeffe

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