Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing, you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself as long as it’s interesting.
He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child, every one of us is ancient, every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.
He says everything is alive – shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.
He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Contentment is Life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength is life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.
By Roger Keyes
The poem “Hokusai Says” by Roger Keyes is a contemporary work inspired by the renowned Japanese ukiyo-e artist, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).
In “Hokusai Says,” Keyes captures the essence of Hokusai’s artistic philosophy and worldview. The poem explores the idea that creativity and personal growth are lifelong journeys, emphasising the importance of perseverance and dedication to one’s craft. It draws inspiration from Hokusai’s dedication to his art and his continuous pursuit of improvement, as demonstrated by the artist’s comment in his later years that he would not reach his artistic zenith until the age of 110.
The message conveyed in “Hokusai Says” is one of resilience, passion, and a commitment to personal and artistic development. It encourages individuals to embrace the process of lifelong learning and growth, emphasizing that mastery and fulfillment are not achieved overnight but through persistent effort and the willingness to learn from every experience.
By referencing Hokusai, Keyes pays tribute to the artist’s iconic works, such as “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” while also drawing upon Hokusai’s own words and philosophy to inspire readers to embark on their own creative journeys. The poem serves as a reminder that creativity knows no bounds and that the pursuit of artistic expression is a lifelong adventure filled with discoveries and evolution.