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EKPHRASTIC POETRY

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about the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts, those. shanks must be sound to bear up under such ... is Heaven and Eternity, with a bleak white haze over its ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: EKPHRASTIC POETRY


1
EKPHRASTIC POETRY
  • Poems on Paintings

2
The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry, c.1500,
Flanders,, the Musée de Cluny, Paris
3
Jorie Graham, "The Lady and the Unicornand Other
Tapestries"
If I have a faith it is something like this this
ordering of imageswithin an atmosphere that will
receive them, hold them in solution, unsolved.It
is this that the quailover the snowon our
back field run free and clocklike, briefly
safe.That they rise up in gusts, stiff and
atemporal, the moment a game they enter,held in
place, as prey,by goodness,by their role in
the design. And when they rise, straight up,to
this or that limb in the snowfat fir, they seem
-- because the body dropsso far below its wings
--to also fall,
4
like our best lies that make what's absolutely
volatilelook like it's weighted down -- our
whitest lie, the beautiful . . . . They rise up
inthe falling snowand yet to see them is to
seetheir fallenness . . . . And when, each to
their limb they go,their faces taupe and indigo
and peeking gently out from under hats like
threadand needle starting topull in the
simplefear, it is an ancient tree their eager
eyes map out --playful and vengeful and
symmetry-bound where out of love the quail are
woveninto tapestries, and , stuffedwith
cardamon and pine-nutsand a sprig of thyme.
5
Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa (c.1503) Oil on
panel, approximately 30 inches x 21 inches.
Louvre, Paris.
6
John Stone, Three for Mona Lisa
1 It is not what she didat 10 o'clocklast
evening accounts for the smile. It isthat she
plansto do it again tonight. 2 Only the
mouthall those yearsever letting on.
3 It's not the mouthexactly it's not the
eyesexactly either it's not evenexactly a
smile But, whatever,I second the motion.
7
Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Two Monkeys (1562) Oil
on canvas, approximately 8 inches x 9 inches.
Dahlem Museum, Berlin.
8
Wislawa Szymborska Two Monkeys by Brueghel
(trans. from the Polish by Magnus Kryski)
I keep dreaming of my graduation examin a
window sit two chained monkeys,beyond the window
floats the sky,and the sea splashes. I am
taking an exam on the history of mankindI
stammer and flounder. One monkey, eyes fixed
upon me, listens ironically,the other seems to
be dozing--and when silence follows a
question,he prompts mewith a soft jingling of
the chain.
9
Pieter Brueghel, Kermesse (1567-8) Oil on canvas,
approximately 45x64.5. Kunsthistorisches
Museum, Vienna.
10
William Carlos Williams, The Dance
In Brueghel's great picture, The Kermess,the
dancers go round, they go round andaround, the
squeal and the blare and thetweedle of bagpipes,
a bugle and fiddlestipping their bellies (round
as the thick-sided glasses whose wash they
impound)their hips and their bellies off
balanceto turn them. Kicking and rollingabout
the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts,
thoseshanks must be sound to bear up under
suchrollicking measures, prance as they dancein
Brueghel's great picture, The Kermess.
11
Pieter Brueghel, The Fall of Icarus Oil-tempera,
29 inches x 44 inches. Museum of Fine Arts,
Brussels.
12
W.H. Auden, Musee des Beaux Arts
About suffering they were never wrong,The old
Masters how well they understoodIts human
position how it takes placeWhile someone else
is eating or opening a window or just walking
dully alongHow, when the aged are reverently,
passionately waitingFor the miraculous birth,
there always must beChildren who did not
specially want it to happen, skatingOn a pond at
the edge of the wood They never forgotThat
even the dreadful martyrdom must run its
courseAnyhow in a corner, some untidy spotWhere
the dogs go on with their doggy life and the
torturer's horseScratches its innocent behind on
a tree.
13
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance how
everything turns awayQuite leisurely from the
disaster the ploughman mayHave heard the
splash, the forsaken cry,But for him it was not
an important failure the sun shoneAs it had to
on the white legs disappearing into the
greenWater, and the expensive delicate ship that
must have seenSomething amazing, a boy falling
out of the sky,Had somewhere to get to and
sailed calmly on.
14
Titian, Venus and the Lute-Player (1560-65) Oil
on canvas, 65 x 82.5 Metropolitan Museum of
Art, New York City.
15
Paul Engle, Venus and the Lute Player
Far in the background a blue mountain waitsTo
echo back the songThe note-necked swan, while it
reverberates,Paddles the tune along. The player
is a young man richly dressed.His hand is never
mute.But quick in motion as if it caressedBoth
lady and the lute. Nude as the sunlit air the
lady rests.She does not listen with her dainty
ear,But trembles at the love song as her
breastsTurn pink to hear. She does not rise up
at his voice's fall,But takes that music in,By
pointed leg and searching hand, with allHer
naked skin. Out of that scene, far off, her hot
eyes fall,Hoping they will take inThe nearing
lover, whom she can give allHer naked skin.
16
Charles I, with his second son, James, Duke of
York, in 1647Painted by Peter Lely Lilly
(16181680).
17
Richard Lovelace, To my Worthy Friend Mr. Peter
Lilly on that excellent Picture of his
Majesty, and the Duke Of Yorke, drawne by him
at Hampton-Court.
SEE !  what a clouded Majesty !  and eyes Whose
glory through their mist doth brighter rise !
See !  what an humble bravery doth shine, And
griefe triumphant breaking through each line How
it commands the face !  so sweet a scorne Never
did happy misery adorne ! So sacred a contempt,
that others show To this, (oth' height of all
the wheele) below That mightiest Monarchs by
this shaded booke May coppy out their proudest,
richest looke.     Whilst the true Eaglet this
quick luster spies, And by his Sun's enlightens
his owne eyes He cares his cares, his burthen
feeles, then streight Joyes that so lightly he
can beare such weight Whilst either eithers
passion doth borrow, And both doe grieve the
same victorious sorrow.    
18
These, my best Lilly with so bold a spirit And
soft a grace, as if thou didst inherit For that
time all their greatnesse, and didst draw With
those brave eyes your Royal Sitters saw.     Not
as of old, when a rough hand did speake A strong
Aspect, and a faire face, a weake When only a
black beard cried Villaine, and By
Hieroglyphicks we could understand When
Chrystall typified in a white spot, And the
bright Ruby was but one red blot Thou dost the
things Orientally the same Not only paintst its
colour, but its Flame Thou sorrow canst
designe without a teare, And with the Man his
very Hope or Feare So that th' amazed world
shall henceforth finde None but my Lilly ever
drew a Minde.
19
William Blake, The Clod and the Pebble
"Love seeketh not Itself to please,"Nor for
itself hath any care,"But for another gives its
ease,"And builds a Heaven in Hell's
despair." So sang little Clod of ClayTrodden
with the cattle's feetBut a Pebble of the
brookWarbled out these metres meet "Love
seeketh only Self to please,"To bind another to
Its delight,"Joys in another's loss of
ease,"And builds a Hell in Heaven's
despite." William Blake (1757-1827), Songs of
Experience
Blake illustrated and engraved his own works
20
J. M. W. Turner, British, 1775-1851 Slave Ship
(Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying,
Typhon Coming On). Oil on canvas (35 3/4 x 48
1/4 in.)
21
David WrightBefore You Read the Plaque About
Turner's Slave Ship"
See the bare canvas.                     A pure
white             bone that                      
               splits the sky's                
weak, warm                                        
     skin of colors. What will be
left                             on the ocean
floor, What will be left                         
                under the swells,         What
will be left                                      
               is unspeakable                
and vivid                                         
    and not the vicious beauty                
of cracking masts                                 
        against the atmosphere                
writing lines of blood.                           
                  Not the blended light,
                or the curious
gulls.                                            
     Not the market's                 fanacious
hope.                                             
                         Not the gods'
desperation to include us in this disaster,
                                                 
                                          
without our will. But the bare, bright,
                                                 
                                                  
smoothed bones of many, many hands,              
                                                  
         so cold, down where the master
                                                 
               could not imagine,
                                                 
       could not light                           
                  the darkest depths.  
22
Kitagawa Utamaro, Girl Powdering Her Neck Musee
Guimet, Paris.
23
The light is the insidesheen of an oyster
shell,sponged with talc and vapor,moisture from
a bath. A pair of slippersare placed
outsidethe rice-paper doors.She kneels at a low
tablein the room,her legs folded beneath heras
she sits on a buckwheat pillow. Her hair is
blackwith hints of red,the color of
seaweedspread over rocks. Morning begins the
ritualwheel of the body,the application of
translucent skins.She practices pleasurethe
pressure of three fingertipsapplying
powder.Fingerprints of pollensome other hand
will trace. The peach-dyed kimonopatterned with
maple leavesdrifting across the silk,
falls from right to leftin a diagonal,
revealingthe nape of her neckand the curve of a
shoulderlike the slope of a hillset deep in
snow in a countryof huge white solemn birds.Her
face appears in the mirror,a reflection in a
winter pond,rising to meet itself. She dips a
corner of her sleevelike a brush into waterto
wipe the mirrorshe is about to paint
herself.The eyes narrowin a moment of
self-scrutiny.The mouth partsas if desiring to
disturbthe placid plum facebreak the symmetry
of silence.But the berry-stained lips,stenciled
into the mask of beauty,do not speak. Two
chrysanthemumstouch in the middle of the
lakeand drift apart.
Cathy Song, Girl Powdering Her Neck from a
ukiyo-e print by Utamaro
24
Claude Monet, Water Lilies 1906 (190 Kb) Oil
on canvas, 87.6 x 92.7 cm (34 1/2 x 36 1/2 in)
The Art Institute of Chicago
25
Robert Hayden, "Monet's 'Waterlilies'"
Today as the news from Selma and Saigonpoisons
the air like fallout,I come again to seethe
serene, great picture that I love. Here space and
time exist in lightthe eye like the eye of faith
believes.The seen, the knowndissolve in
iridescence, becomeillusive flesh of lightthat
was not, was, forever is. O light beheld as
through refracting tears.Here is the aura of
that worldeach of us has lost.Here is the
shadow of its joy.
26
Paul Gauguin, The Loss of Virginity. 1890-91, Oil
on canvas90 x 130 cm (35 x 50 3/4 in), The
Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia
27
Linda Pastan,In the Realm of Pure Color"after
Gauguin's The Loss of Virginity
It is our eyes that losetheir innocence,
ravished bythese purples and greens as we
gazeat the woman lying there,her ankles
pressed together,like Holbein's christ.She is
perfectly immobile,as if the fox signifying
lustwere hardly there, nor the birdsettled on
her open hand.Even the procession that windsits
slow way towards heris simply a curve of
darknessin the distance. In this realmof pure
color it is the intense bluesof the water that
matter,the soft shapes of the rocks,more
voluptuous than any woman.And she becomes a
flat plane of whitein the foreground, the
tropical colorof sand after the sea has receded.
28
Edvard Munch, Girls on the Jetty (c. 1899) Oil on
canvas, approximately 53.5 inches x 49.5 inches.
Nasjonalgalleriat, Oslo.
29
Derek Mahon, Girls on the Bridge
Audible trout,Notional midges. Beds,Lamplight
and crisp linen waitIn the house there for the
sedateLimbs and averted headsOf the girls out
Late on the bridge.The dusty road that
slopesPast is perhaps the high road south,A
symbol of world-wondering youth,Of adolescent
hopesAnd privileges But stops to findThe
girls content to gazeAt the unplumbed,
reflective lake,Their plangent conversational
quackExpressive of calm daysAnd peace of mind.

Grave daughtersOf time, you lightly tossYour
hair as the long shadows growAnd night begins to
fall. AlthoughYour laughter calls acrossThe
dark waters, A ghastly sunWatches in pale
dismay.Oh, you may laugh, being as you areFair
sisters of the evening star,But wait-if not
todayA day will dawn When the bad dreamsYou
scarcely know will scatterThe punctual increment
of your lives.The road resumes, and where it
curves,A mile from where you chatter,Somebody
screams.
30
The girls are dead,The house and pond have
gone.Steel bridge and concrete highway gleamAnd
sing in the arctic dark the screamWe started at
is grownThe serenade Of an insaneAnd
monstrous age. We liveThese days as on a
different planet,One without trout or midges on
it,Under the arc-lights ofA mineral heaven
And we have come,Despite ourselves, to noTrue
notion of our proper work,But wander in the
dazzling darkAmid the drifting snowDreaming of
some
Lost evening whenOur grandmothers, if
grandMothers we had, stood at the edgeOf
womanhood on a country bridgeAnd gazed at a
still pondAnd knew no pain.
31
Paul Cezanne, L'Estaque (1883-85) Oil on canvas.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York City.
32
Allen GinsbergCezannes Ports
In the foreground we see time and lifeswept in a
racetoward the left hand side of the
picturewhere shore meets shore. But that
meeting placeisn't representedit doesn't occur
on the canvas. For the other side of the bayis
Heaven and Eternity,with a bleak white haze over
its mountains. And the immense water of
L'Estaque is a go-betweenfor minute rowboats.
33
Henri Matisse, The Red Studio (1911) Oil on
canvas, 71 x 86 The Museum of Modern Art, NYC
34
W.D. Snodgrass,Matisse The Red Studio
There is no one here.But the objects they are
real. It is notAs if he had stepped out or moved
awayThere is no other room and noReturning.
Your foot or finger would passThrough, as into
unreflecting waterRed with clay, or into
fire.Still, the objects they are real. It isAs
if he had stoodStill in the bare center of this
floor,His mind turned in in concentrated
fury,Till he sankLike a great beast sinking
into sandsSlowly, and did not look up.His own
room drank him.What else could generate
thisTerra cotta raging through the floor and
walls,Through chests, chairs, the table and the
clock,Till all environments of living
areTransformed to energy--Crude, definitive and
gay.And so gave birth to objects that are
real.How slowly they took shape, his children,
here, Grew solid and remainThe crayons these
statues the clear brandybowl
35
The ashtray where a girl sleeps, curling among
flowersThis flask of tall glass, green, where a
vine beginsWhose bines circle the other girl
brown as a cypress knee.Then, pictures, emerging
on the wallsBathers a landscape a still life
with a vaseTo the left, a golden blonde, lain
in magentas with flowers scattering like
starsOpposite, top right, these terra cotta
women, living, in their world of living's
colorsBetween, but yearning toward them, the
sailor on his red cafe chair, dark blue,
self-absorbed.These stay, exact,Within the
belly of these walls that burn,That must hum
like the domed electric webWithin which, at the
carnival, small cars bump and turn,Toward which,
for strength, they reach their iron handsLike
the heavens' walls of flame that the old magi
could seeOr those ethereal clouds of
energyFrom which all constellations form,Within
whose love they turn.They stand here real and
ultimate.But there is no one here.
36
X.J. KennedyNude Descending a Staircase
Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,A gold of lemon,
root and rind,She sifts in sunlight down the
stairsWith nothing on. Nor on her mind. We spy
beneath the banisterA constant thresh of thigh
on thigh--Her lips imprint the swinging airThat
parts to let her parts go by. One-woman
waterfall, she wearsHer slow descent like a long
capeAnd pausing, on the final stairCollects her
motions into shape.
Marcel Duchamp. Nude Descending a Staircase, No.
2 (1912) Oil on canvas, 58x 35. Philadelphia
Museum of Art.
37
Edward Hopper, House by the Railroad (1925) Oil
on canvas, 24 inches x 29 inches. Museum of
Modern Art, New York City.
38
Edward Hirsch, Edward Hopper and the House by
the Railroad (1925)
Now the stranger returns to this place
dailyUntil the house begins to suspectThat the
man, too, is desolate, desolateAnd even ashamed.
Soon the house starts To stare frankly at the
man. And somehowThe empty white canvas slowly
takes onThe expression of someone who is
unnerved,Someone holding his breath
underwater. And then one day the man simply
disappears.He is a last afternoon shadow
movingAcross the tracks, making its wayThrough
the vast, darkening fields. This man will paint
other abandoned mansions,And faded cafeteria
windows, and poorly letteredStorefronts on the
edges of small towns.Always they will have this
same expression, The utterly naked look of
someoneBeing stared at, someone American and
gawky.Someone who is about to be left
aloneAgain, and can no longer stand it.
Out here in the exact middle of the day,This
strange, gawky house has the expressionOf
someone being stared at, someone holdingHis
breath underwater, hushed and expectant This
house is ashamed of itself, ashamedOf its
fantastic mansard rooftopAnd its pseudo-Gothic
porch, ashamedof its shoulders and large,
awkward hands. But the man behind the easel is
relentless.He is as brutal as sunlight, and
believesThe house must have done something
horribleTo the people who once lived
here Because now it is so desperately empty,It
must have done something to the skyBecause the
sky, too, is utterly vacantAnd devoid of
meaning. There are no Trees or shrubs
anywhere--the houseMust have done something
against the earth. All that is present is a
single pair of tracksStraightening into the
distance. No trains pass.
39
Kate Fagan, Circa 1927 Realising Belief
This world of geometry and truthoutruns my
handin sprawling colour.   Awake in
constancyand a vaulted skywhere sun gives shape
to limbs   I saw youstanding with the
jacarandas,siren of a new present   as though
feelingcould not be pacified by numbersand
shone replete in things.   We are here only
here.Hill, bucket, river that fillsand empties
in a pool at my feet.
Grace Cossington Smith's Trees, 1927, Newcastle
Region Art Gallery
40
Charles Henry Demuth (1883-1935), I Saw the
Figure Five in Gold Oil on board, approximately
30 inches x 36 inches. Metropolitan Museum of
Art, New York City.
This is actually a painting on a poem. Demuths
painting is based on W.C. Williiams poem
41
William Carlos Williams, The Great Figure
Among the rainand lightsI saw the figure 5in
goldon a redfire truckmovingtenseunheededto
gong clangssiren howlsand wheels
rumblingthrough the dark city
42
Paul Delvaux, The Village of the Mermaids
(1942) Oil on panel, 41x 49 The Art Institute
of Chicago.
43
Lisel Mueller, Paul Delvaux The Village of the
Mermaids Oil on canvas, 1942
Who is that man in black, walkingaway from us
into the distance?The painter, they say, took a
long timefinding his vision of the world. The
mermaids, if that is what they areunder their
full-length skirts,sit facing each otherall
down the street, more of an alley,in front of
their gray row houses.They all look the same,
like a fair-hairedorder of nuns, or like
prostituteswith chaste, identical faces.How
calm they are, with their vacant eyes,their
hands in laps that betray nothing.Only one has
scales on her dusky dress. It is 1942 it is
Europe,and nothing fits. The one familiar
figureis the man in black approaching the
sea,and he is small and walking away from us.
44
Jackson Pollack, Number 1 (1948) Oil on canvas,
68 inches x 104 inches. The Museum of Modern Art,
New York City.
45
Nancy Sullivan Number 1 by Jackson Pollock
(1948)
No name but a number.Trickles and valleys of
paintDevise this mazeInto a game of
MonopolyWithout any bank. IntoA linoleum on the
floorIn a dream. IntoMurals inside of the
mind.No similes here. NothingBut paint. Such
purityTaxes the poem that speaksStill of
something in a placeOr at a time.How to realize
his questionLet alone his answer?
46
Larry Rivers, Washington Crossing the Delaware
(1953) Oil on canvas, 7x 9. The
Museum of Modern Art,
NYC
47
Frank O'Hara, On Seeing Larry Rivers'
Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Museum
of Modern Art
Now that our hero has come back to usin his
white pants and we know his nosetrembling like a
flag under fire,we see the calm cold river is
supportingour forces, the beautiful history. To
be more revolutionary than a nunis our desire,
to be secular and intimateas, when sighting a
redcoat, you smileand pull the trigger.
Anxietiesand animosities, flaming and feeding on
theoretical considerations andthe jealous
spiritualities of the abstractthe robot? they're
smoke, billows abovethe physical event. They
have burned up.See how free we are! as a nation
of persons. Dear father of our country, so
aliveyou must have lied incessantly to
beimmediate, here are your bones crossedon my
breast like a rusty flintlock,a pirate's flag,
bravely specific and ever so light in the misty
glareof a crossing by water in winter to a
shoreother than that the bridge reaches
for.Don't shoot until, the white of freedom
glintingon your gun barrel, you see the general
fear.
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