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Friday, July 15, 2016

Poetry Friday--Ekphrastic Poetry

For those unfamiliar with the term, an ekphrastic poem is poetry about, or inspired by art. The art could be a painting, sculpture, mosaic, etc., or, the poem could be about the artist who created the work.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the birth of painter Gustav Klimt who was born in 1862 (died 1918). Here is his painting, "The Kiss":

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, wrote a poem about "The Kiss" titled, "Short Story on a Painting of Gustav Klimt." In it, he describes the participants in the kiss:
her long dress made
of multicolored blossoms
quilted on gold
her Titian hair
with blues stars in it
And his gold
harlequin robe
checkered with
dark squares
Gold garlands
stream down over
her bare calves &
tensed feet
I have not even attempted to reproduce the spaces and line breaks. You must see the poem printed on the page in order to appreciate the way the poet uses white space on the page as a poetic element; click here.

Ferlinghetti also interprets the painting and adds the motivation behind the expression of the woman being kissed.
Her eyes are closed
like folded petals
will not open
is not the One

Another ekphrastic poem on Klimt's works was written by Jorie Graham and can be read (and listened to) here.

Interested in more ekphrasis? Look for the series of books by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, two of which we own: The Color of Light: Poems on Van Gogh's Late Paintings [811.54 MCE] and In Quiet light: poems on Vermeer's women [811.6 MCE].

A poetic friend, Mary Lee Hahn, it the Poetry Friday Round-Up host this week at A Year of Reading.


  1. Ekphrastic poems are a perfect way to celebrate a painter's birthday!

  2. Nice to start the day with this gorgeous painting. I like "Her eyes are closed/
    like folded petals."

  3. How nearer the edge is she. That's what I think when I read this poem and look at the picture. I wonder what lays below that edge.