• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 12
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Narrow Road

His book entitles him to a Booker
but he hardly cares, his is to stare
over sea and mountain
not looking east or west
he does not dare to test
many worlds or compass points

his knowledge is borne on the tight path
of Hinayana, not the plaster and lath
of imperial palaces that slather power
and sense to the four winds
he stands for himself, feeling the breeze
from regions beyond the cold mountains
and the slate-blue sea he may never cross;

to see over and beyond is enough
and so he avoids the mere dross of thinking
about things unknown, or forever stillborn,
he looks north, not to see the road
but to feel it unwinding from him

the long way round, that bodes well
for those who would tell the rarest tale
and take the smallest vehicle
on the path that leads nowhere
but back to himself.

(The Australian Richard Flanagan has won the 2014 Booker Prize for the book The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which is also the title of a book of poems by the Japanese haiku poet Basho, born 1644)