Do Frogs Exist there Too?


#1

So I am at the hospital now and as I have time to spare, and because they also have a nasty firewall that prevents playing Xonotic, I am digging up old public domain books. I decided to read this old famous Czech poem collection about the universe, called Cosmic Songs. They’re very cool poems. Unfortunately I haven’t found a complete translation (out of which I could make a nice Pokitto book with my reader), but one guy from NASA translated at least this one:

Do Frogs Exist There Too?

Frogs sat around a puddle
And gazed at heavens high
Frog teacher pounding into skulls
The science of the sky.

He spoke about the heavens
Bright dots we see there burning
And men watch them, “astronomers”
Like moles they dig for learning.

When these moles start to map the stars
The large becomes quite small
What’s twenty million miles to us
They call one foot, that’s all.

So, as those moles did figure out
(If you believe their plan)
Neptune is thirty feet away
Venus, less than one.

If we chopped up the Sun, he said
(Awed frogs could only stare)
We’d get three hundred thousand Earth’s
With still a few to spare

The Sun helps us make use of time,
It rolls round heaven’s sphere
And cuts a workday into shifts
“Forever” to a year

What comets are is hard to say
A strange manifestation
Though this is not a reason for
Some idle speculation

They are no evil sign, we hope
No reason for great fright
As in a story we got from
Lubyenyetsky, great knight

A comet there appeared, and when
It rays were seen by all
The cobblers in a tavern
Began a shameful brawl

He told them how the stars we see
So many, overhead
Are actually only suns
Some green, some blue, some red

And if we use the spectroscope
Their light tells, in addition
Those distant stars and our Earth
Have the same composition

He stopped. The frogs were overwhelmed.
Their froggy eyeballs rolled.
“What more about this universe
Would you like to be told?”

“Just one more thing, please tell us sir”
A frog asked, “Is it true?
Do creatures live there just like us
Do frogs exist there too?”

EDIT:

Started my own translation to which I’ll be adding other poems from that collection, and which will be public domain (as is the original).


#2

It reminds me of a Japanese expression,
which is in turn taken from a Chinese Taoist book (Zhuangzi).

井の中の蛙大海を知らず。
(I no naka no kawazu taikai o shirazu.)
“A frog in a well does not know the great ocean.”


#3

My only knowledge of Japanese can still be summed up in one sentence, neko wa ringo o tabemashta (that cat ate an apple).


#4

Mini Japanese Lesson:

Technically「猫はりんごをたべました」(neko wa ringo o tabemashita) just means “cat ate apple(s)”.
Which cat the sentence refers to has to be inferred from the context. (As does how many apples the cat ate.)

To specifically mean ‘that cat’ you’d need to add a word,
but thanks to a quirk of Japanese the word you’d need would depend on where the cat was in relation to you.

If it’s close to you, you’d use ‘kono’ (この),
if it’s close to the listener you’d use ‘sono’ (その),
and if it’s not near either of you, you’d use ‘ano’ (あの).


P.S. Someone needs to inform Richard Starkey that his stage name means apple in Japanese.