Ekphrastic Poetry

The beauty found within works of art can often be hard to describe, as it seems at times there is a lack of accurate language available to accurately encapsulate the feelings the art evokes inside of us. It is made difficult also by the fact that one work of art can quite possibly mean one-hundred different things to one-hundred different people. The subjectiveness involved in analyzing and assigning meaning to art has always fascinated me, and is the main reason why I am so found of ekphrastic poetry. While ekphrastic poems are merely poems written about works of art, often times they dig to find deeper meaning relating to the pieces of art that they are commenting on. Such a mode of expression serves as a medium through which writers can relate their emotional and critical responses to a particular work of art. In addition, such poetry can often add to works of art by making known any political and/or societal issues being addressed by the artist of the original work. This intersection of visual and literary art acts trifold as a commentary on the work of art itself, any social or political implications raised by the work and the writers reaction to the piece. Ekphrastic poems serve as examples to show the impact that the arts can have on society, and it is why I believe they should be highly valued.

One Reply to “Ekphrastic Poetry”

  1. This is a great post, Jack. Ekphrastic poetry, such as Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats, attempts to show, and not just tell, the reader what the piece is about. These poems, as you mention, are used to explain and let the reader learn about the imbedded meaning within the piece of art. It is not simply a poem praising, or critiquing, a piece of art – it serves as an adequate way to express emotional meaning within art, which as you point out, is something that should be valued.

    An interesting take on this might be to look at art that describes a poem. I don’t know what art is like this, but I could envision something like a painting trying to describe The Second Coming, by W.B Yeats, for example, or any poem with lots of imagery and established social and political meaning. I think ekphrastic poetry is a type of art that has been under-utilized, and something that we will probably look more deeply in during class.

    Ekphrasis can also be looked at throughout many lenses, which is something quite intriguing. How do we, as the viewer or recipient, take in works of art and put them into certain social and political means? This subjectiveness creates many different means, as you said, and I find that to create a litany of new interpretations and meaning, within different contexts.

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