“I Kill an Ant”

Shuson Kato

I kill an ant

and realize my three children

have been watching.


Shuson Kato was one of the many masters of Japanese haiku. He was one of the most admired and important figure in the haiku writer circle. Early on in his life, he decided he wanted to be a writer, and taught at a local Junior High School. The environment of the school actually inspired many of his poems. Kato was at one point in time, an avid hater of the haiku form. He saw it as too limiting and restricting. He was much more thrilled with the 31 syllable type called tanka.  He fully embraced the haiku poetry when he was introduced to an acclaimed haiku poet. Kato firmly believed in the healing powers of poetry, and this surprisingly helped him recover from illness. He liked to express human life and flaws in his poetry, which was a typical of a haiku writer.

Source: http://www.haikusociety.com/14

Poetic Technique

Haiku: a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.

The original Japanese version of Kato’s poem is a 5:7:5 syllable, traditional, haiku. However, the precision has been lost in translation. Despite the fact that the English translated version is not the exact amount of syllables, the essence of the poem remains the same.


The action of killing an ant at first seems non important. However, the symbolism in the death of an ant can lead to many different trains of thought.

One is that by mindlessly killing an ant, we are teaching children to be insensitive to nature and natural beauty in the world. They need to form an appreciation of nature, because when it comes down to it, it could be all we have left. The ability for a child to form an appreciation for the natural world could directly impact their feelings towards beings other than ants. We have redefined cruelty. If an action doesn’t directly affect us, we do not care. A child accustomed to killing ants may not see the importance in killing trees, or wasting money. This mentality is flawed, and can lead to vastly unprepared and dangerous adults.

Another way is much more straightforward. Any parent that does anything has influence over his or her child. Children, by nature, learn and follow by example. Therefore, an off-hand remark about a person’s race or sexuality can and will be picked up by that child. They will copy their parents, and will pick up traits that are not desirable to outsiders. Some traits could be a lack of sensitivity to profanity, using blasphemy, being homophobic simply “because Daddy is,” misgendering people, or being racist.

Parents have the ability to teach their children to be wonderful people. They have influence that they cannot understand. So by killing that ant, they teach their children how easy cruelty is.


to kill an ant visual

Source: http://imanbendjedidi.blogspot.com/2011/02/taqleed-blind-following.html

Visual Explanation

This visual is meant to portray the danger of blind following of a power source. In this case, the action of stepping on an ant is a careless and unthoughtful action, which leads to redundancy of the same type of decision. This repeating of actions is the most dangerous that humans can exhibit. When we come to the point to doing things just for the sake of doing them, rather than having reasons, we experience downfalls in society that we can not even comprehend. The inevitable blasphemy is daunting in this explanation. However, more often than not, this action has to do with religion. More people nowadays blindly follow passages written in languages that have been translated so many times that their original meaning has lost both their meaning and context. The homophobia present in some Christian minds is disgusting. Rather than formulating opinions of their own, and making decisions for themselves, these people are paraphrasing bible verses and giving them whole new meanings. We have evolved into a time where oppression without reason is the norm, rather than the exception.

One thought on “Haiku

  1. Pingback: Living With Insect Haiku | Living With Insects Blog

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