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Haiku Classic: March 18, 2018

pandane-no ikite fukuramu yoru-no shimo

    the baker's yeast

    it lives ... it expands ...

    frost in the night

    --

    Shuson Kato (1905-1993): Selected, translated and commented on by Dhugal J. Lindsay

    The poet skillfully pivots the poem around the central line, allowing the reader to experience uncertainty as to what actually constitutes "life." The yeast expands and that is a sign that it is alive. However, the frost also expands as the water freezes in the soil. Why do we consider one alive and the other not? Spatially we are transported from the warmth and brightness of the kitchen to the cold, dark night outside and this juxtaposition of the different environments that the living frost and yeast inhabit heighten our sense of uncertainty about "life."

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