‘The Narrow Road To The Deep North And Other Travel Sketches’ By Bashō

His travelogues are sprinkled with many poems, though I wouldn’t call this a poetry collection, but I wish some more were actually by Bashō and fewer by his students (especially one named Sora, who often accompanied him) and others.

He doesn’t engage in the kind of detailed, rapt description that I’ve found in nineteenth century European works, but it’s still moving to read his spare remarks about mountains, rivers, and beaches; meeting fellow poets; and making pilgrimages to isolated temples.

Bashō has, if nothing else, reinvigorated my desire to retire quietly with books and paper and pens, though I’ve done almost nothing to make that happen.

It can feel like the so-called Benedictine option is almost necessary to escape material distractions and material requirements. It’s not an accident that joining a Christian monastic order is also known as taking a ‘vocation’ (so is becoming a priest, which is not a requirement of becoming a monk). Is it a full time job that normal life leaves no room for?

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