Ekphrastic Poetry

By Laurie Epps

Ekphrastic Poetry is the topic for January 2014. But before we go any further, we must discuss what ekphrastic poetry is. Loosely, the word Ekphrasis means the writer is making a comment about another art form or is making a response to it.

A classic example is John Keats poem, "Ode to a Grecian Urn." I will be writing this style all month, and I welcome you to also send entries for my January 30, 2014 column.



John Keats 1795-1821



625. Ode on a Grecian Urn
  
THOU still unravish'd bride of quietness, 
  Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time, 
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express 
  A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: 
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape         5
  Of deities or mortals, or of both, 
    In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? 
  What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? 
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? 
    What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?  10
 
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard 
  Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; 
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd, 
  Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: 
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave  15
  Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; 
    Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, 
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve; 
    She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, 
  For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!  20
 
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed 
  Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 
And, happy melodist, unweari├Ęd, 
  For ever piping songs for ever new; 
More happy love! more happy, happy love!  25
  For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd, 
    For ever panting, and for ever young; 
All breathing human passion far above, 
  That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd, 
    A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.  30
 
Who are these coming to the sacrifice? 
  To what green altar, O mysterious priest, 
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, 
  And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? 
What little town by river or sea-shore,  35
  Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, 
    Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn? 
And, little town, thy streets for evermore 
  Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell 
    Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.  40
 
O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede 
  Of marble men and maidens overwrought, 
With forest branches and the trodden weed; 
  Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought 
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!  45
  When old age shall this generation waste, 
    Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe 
  Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, 
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all 
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'  50

Wishing you and yours a prosperous and Happy New Year in 2014 from those of us at Thoughtful Thursdays: A Poetic Column.

Blessings,
Laurie and Ken


Laurie Epps is a senior at Anderson University majoring in Creative Writing. Already Laurie is most published as a feature article writer, essayist, and poet. A seeker of beauty and world traveler, Laurie hopes to grow into a career in travel writing illuminating the many stories that make us human despite our differences. Currently, Laurie also has a Monday Morning Book Club column dedicated to writers everywhere.





 
 

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