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HomePoems > Mount Fuji > 13. View on a Fine Breezy Day                      

 

13.  View on a Fine Breezy Day

 

How I love Hokusai, the peasant who painted

Buddha big enough to eat a horse, impromptu,

Then switched brushes, and sketched two sparrows,

So tiny you needed a magnifying glass to see.

Expressionist, he threw a paper door down,

dipped a rooster's five-clawed feet in red ink,

And set him running--Maple Leaves in Autumn.

 

93 houses he had, 50 false names, dozens

Of bankruptcies--wood carver,

Errand boy, calendar-seller, pepper salesman,

At 60 he knuckled down to art,

At 78, burned out of his house, he shrugged,

And rebuilt, with a sign warning visitors,

"No compliments. No gifts."

Red lava burning up the cone

Melts the last snow, soars past trees,

Humbles the low, circling forest.

Who but a peasant would plunk

This giant at the center of so many prints?

No fake crags, no Chinese mist, just a big bald mountain.

The clouds ride on by, regular as furrows,

Foregrounding the colossus, sharpening its edge,

Painted over by this heroic self advertiser,

The earthy artist, Mount Fuji.


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