Pseudo-synesthete authors
Bashó, Matsuo (1644 - 1694) 

Japanese haiku poet. 
Umi kurete 
kamo no koe 
honoka ni shiroshi.
 The sea darkens – 
the wild duck's call 
is faintly white. 
(as translated by Hass 1994)
Kane kiete 
Hana no ka wa tsku 
Yube kana
As the bell tone fades 
Blossom scents take up the ringing 
Evening shade 
(as translated by Ueda 1967)
Baudelaire, Charles
La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers 
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles; 
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles 
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers. 

Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent 
Dans une ténébreuuse et profonde unité, 
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté, 
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent. 

Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants, 
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies, 
Et d'autres, corrompus, piches et triomphants, 

Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies, 
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens, 
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens. 

Nature is a temple where living pillars 
sometimes let forth confused words; 
in it man goes through forests of symbols 
which watch him with familiar looks. 

Like long echoes which from a distance 
mingle into a shadowy and deep unity, 
as vast as night and light, perfumes, 
colours and sounds reply to one another. 

There are perfumes fresh as children's flesh, 
sweet as oboes, green as meadows, 
and others corrupt, rich and triumphant, 

Sharing the capacity of expansion that infinite things have, 
such as musk, balsam and incense, 
which hymn the transports of the mind and the senses. 
[From Cristopher Robinson, French Literature in the Nineteenth Century; New York: Barnes & Noble; 1978. Pp. 129-130. 

Buson, Yosa (1716 - 1783) 

Japanese haiku poet. 
Suzushisa ya 
Kane o hanaruru 
Kane no koe.
Coolness – 
the sound of the bell 
as it leaves the bell. 
(as translated by Hass 1994)
Old well, 
a fish leaps – 
dark sound. 
(as translated by Hass 1994)
Kageroo ya 
na mo shiranu mushi no 
shiroki tobu.
Heat waves of spring; 
An unknown insect 
Is flying whitely. 
(as translated by Blyth 1949)
The sound of a bell 
struck off center 
vanishes in haze. 
(as translated by Hass 1994)
Chora (Japanese haiku poet)
Mushi horo-horo 
kusa ni koboruru 
neiro kana.
The sound-colour 
Of insects pattering down 
On the leaves. 
(as translated by Blyth 1949)
Issa, Kobayashi (1763-1827) 

Japanese haiku poet
Uguisu ya 
kiiro na koe de 
oya wo yobu.
The young uguisu 
Calls its parents 
With a yellow voice. 
(as translated by Blyth 1949)
Rimbaud, Arthur 
Perhaps one of the most famous poems ever written with a synaesthetic theme is Rimbaud's "Voyelles": 
A noir, E blancI rougeU vertO bleu: voyelles, 
Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes: 

A, noir corset velu des mouches éclatantes 
Qui bombinent autour des puanteurs cruelles, 
Golfes d'ombre; E, candeurs des vapeurs et des tentes, Lances des glaciers fiers, rois blancs, frissons d'ombelles. 

I, pourpres, sang craché, rire des lèvres belles 
Dans la colère ou les pénitentes; 
U, cycles, vibrements divins des mers virides, 
Paix des pâtis semés d'animaux, paix des rides 
Que l'alchimie imprime aux grands fronts studieux; 

O, suprême Clairon plein des strideurs étranges, 
Silences traversés des Mondes et des Anges: 
-- O l'Oméga, rayon violet de Ses Yeux! 

A black, E whiteI redU greenO blue -- 
I'll tell One day, you vowels, how you come to be and whence. 

A, black, the glittering of flies that form a dense, 
Velvety corset round some foul and cruel smell, 
Gulf of dark shadow; E, the glaiers' insolence, 
Steams, tents, white kings, the quiver of a flowery bell; 

I, crimson, blood expectorated, laughs that well 
From lovely lips in wrath or drunken pentinence; 
U, cycles, the divine vibrations of the seas, 
Peace of herd-dotted pastures or the wrinkled ease 
That alchemy imprints upon the scholar's brow; 

O, the last trumpet, loud with strangely strident brass, 
The silences through which the Worlds and Angels pass: 
-- O stands for Omega, His Eyes' deep violet glow! 
(Translation by Norman Cameon, in Bernstein 1947: 237-238.)] 

Rimbaud later (1873) admitted that he was not a synaesthete, and had made up the correspondences between vowels and colors: 
"J'inventais la couleur des voyelles! -- A noir, E blanc, I rouge, O bleu, U vert. -- Je réglai la forme et le mouvement de chaque consonne, et, avec des rhythmes instinctifs, je me flattai d'inventer un verbe poétique accessible, un jour ou l'autre, à tous les sens. Je réservais la traduction" (quoted in Marks 1997/1975: 51).
"I invented the colors of the vowels! -- A black, E white, I red, O blue, U green. -- I settled on the form and the movement of each consonant, and, with instinctive rhythms, I flattered myself to invent an accessible poetic verb, one day or another, for all of the senses. I set up the translation [my translation from the French]
Shiki, Masaoka (1867 - 1902) 

(Japanese haiku poet.) 
Koomori no  
tobu oto kurashi  
yabu no naka.
The sound of the bat 
Flying in the thicket, 
Is dark. 
(as translated by Blyth 1949)
Kampan ni 
arare no oto no 
kurasa kana.
On the deck 
The sound of the hail 
Is dark. 
(as translated by Blyth 1949) 
This page last updated:5.July.2011