Poetry — The Haiku Master, the Cicadas and the CIA [Just ask ChatGPT!]

“One is reminded of Montaigne’s acerbic comment: ‘Men under stress are fools, and fool themselves.’ ”

Michael Crichton
The Andromeda Strain

June 2 2022 — Matsuo Bashō was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. After centuries of commentary, he is recognized as the greatest master of haiku. The CIA could learn a few things from his poetry. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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UPDATE (April 3rd 2023) — I believe that ChatGPT can be a very useful tool for those who study Intelligence topics. This is a subject that I plan discus often in the near future.

Today, I just wanted to know how ChatGPT interprets this haiku!

And thus, I asked the following question:

Can you explain the meaning of this haiku?




And here is the answer:

Certainly! This haiku is one of the most famous examples in Japanese literature and was composed by the renowned poet Matsuo Basho in the 17th century. Here is a breakdown of the poem:

閑かさや (shizukasa ya) – This phrase can be translated as “how tranquil” or “what a calmness.”

岩にしみ入る (iwa ni shimiiru) – This line means “pierces into the rock,” with the verb shimiiru meaning “to penetrate” or “to soak in.”

蝉の声 (semi no koe) – This line simply means “the sound of the cicadas.”

Taken together, the haiku can be translated as:

How tranquil it is, Penetrating the very rock, The sound of cicadas.

The poem is a celebration of the peacefulness and beauty of nature, as represented by the sound of the cicadas. The image of their voices penetrating the rock suggests a sense of deep immersion in the natural world, as if the sound is an integral part of the landscape. The use of the word “tranquil” emphasizes the sense of calm and serenity that the poet experiences while listening to the cicadas, creating a meditative and reflective mood.

What do you think?

PS — I was curious to know what ChatGPT thought about my own translation as discussed in this post. (See below) Here is the answer:

Your translation is certainly a valid interpretation of the original haiku. The first line you added (“The feeling of being free from noise!”) is not a part of the original poem, but it could be seen as an additional layer of meaning that you are bringing to the interpretation.

Your choice to use an exclamation mark at the end of the first line and the use of the word “big” in the third line both add a slightly different tone and emphasis to the poem compared to the original. While the original poem emphasizes the sense of tranquility and immersion in nature, your translation highlights the contrast between the noisy distractions of daily life and the peacefulness of the natural world.

Overall, your translation captures the essence of the original haiku and offers an interesting perspective on the themes of nature and serenity. My only suggestion would be to consider rephrasing the second line slightly, perhaps to use more specific imagery that evokes the sound of the cicadas in a more vivid and sensory way.


June 2 2022 — Perhaps, one of his most famous haiku is the following which he wrote during a summer retreat in a mountain temple:




Allow me to first provide the most accurate translation I can think of.

The feeling of being free from noise!

The sound of the cicadas

penetrates deep inside the big rock.

Now, the beauty of poetry is that each of us is allowed to interpret it the way he likes. Here is my own understanding of this masterpiece.

The noise of the cicadas is powerful enough to penetrate deep inside a big rock, but it can not reach inside the mind of a wise man.

In times of stress and chaos, it is only natural to be confused and distracted by the noise around us. Yet, one must be disciplined and stay focused.

In these most trying moments, we have a duty to think clearly and precisely.

Despite a $85 billion annual budget, it took the US Intelligence Community and the CIA task force more than 5 years to realize that the primary cause of the Havana Syndrome was just the chirping of Cicadas.

And yet, from the very beginning, the CIA had all the information needed to rule out microwave attacks.

PS — For the record — The expression “Havana Syndrome” was coined by Dr. Ludwig De Braeckeleer and appeared for the first time in a story published by the Intel Today blog on October 3 2017. [Here is the tweet] Why would Wikipedia dispute such a simple fact?

“Men are tormented by the opinions they have of things, and not the things themselves.”

Michel de Montaigne


US Intelligence Agencies Are Trying To Solve Scientific Mysteries And Failing Badly — BuzzFeed News


Poetry — The Haiku Master, the Cicadas and the CIA

Poetry — The Haiku Master, the Cicadas and the CIA [Just ask ChatGPT!]

“It is the role of intelligence to identify and characterize threats to the nation and to sift what is likely true from what is probably false. But the public has gotten very little useful or meaningful information from our intelligence agencies. They could do better.”

Steven Aftergood
Federation of American Scientists

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