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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ekphrastic Poetry

Under the Willows, painted by Francis Hopkinson Smith, 1915

While browsing through some poetry sites recently, I came across the term ekphrastic poetry [ehk-fruh-stik poh-i-tree] .  I had never heard of it before, and had no idea what it was.  After a little searching, I learned that it is poetry inspired by a piece of artwork -- a painting, a photograph, a statue, or any other kind of art form.  In other words, it is art about art.

Once I knew what it was, I wanted to try writing my own ekphrastic poem.  I looked for a painting in the public domain, one that "spoke" to me, and finally chose the picture above, painted by Francis Hopkinson Smith.  I like the sense of calm I feel when I look at it, the way the light shines on the water, and the graceful willow trees.  I chose to focus on just one tree in my poem, the one in the forefront of the picture.  Here's what I came up with:

Under the Willow

The willow,
tall and green,
over the pond,
patches of sunlight
over the water.
A breeze
the leaves
on her shaggy head.
She bends
toward the shadows
and a slender branch
dips downward,
the smooth surface,
sending ripples
across the liquid mirror.
Tiny waves
against the shore
and the wooden boat
moored there.
This is a
and quiet,
under the willow tree.

~ Janelle H.

Have you ever written ekphrastic poetry?  If not, I suggest giving it a try.  It's fun!  Feel free to use the painting above for inspiration, or any other artwork that catches your eye.  I hope you will share your poetry here -- I'd love to read it!

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