Since Basho was writing in 17th century Japanese, I won’t fuss over the line breaks in order to arrive at the prescribed 5-7-5 syllable count or the line structure. Here is how it might look in English:
Taken in my hand
it would melt, my tears are so
warm—this autumnal frost.
A more natural (and pedestrian?) English syntax might go like this:
Or,My tears are so warmthis autumnal frost would melt,taken in my hand.
This autumnal frost would melt,
taken in my hand,
my tears are so warm.
Those aren't bad, and they retain the physicality of language in the other version; but I feel that holding back “this autumnal frost” and making it the conclusion adds a tension and drama that I’d miss now that I’ve seen it Basho’s way, or the way of his translator.
Whatever else this amounts to, it’s an example of the kinds of structural decisions a writer labors over. And we see the ways those choices can change the power of a sentence by arranging the placement of what’s powerful. It's really a matter of the old subject-verb-object lesson: Who does what to whom? In the first version, "this autumnal frost" achieves power by coming last, by being built up to, and by playing against expectation. In the other versions, it's somewhat buried, made equal to the tears, the hand, the melting.
Modern cop shows ask, “Who’s the perp? Who’s the doer and who’s the victim that got done to?” Maybe poems aren't all that different. So if I’m being a pedant, a soul-crunching counter of words, a nerd, at least I’m not alone.
A pedant, a nerd, and a geek walk into a bar . . . .