The Beauty of Ekphrastic Poems

June 9, 2017 at 8:08 am Thomas Reischel

How the Magic of Words is Used to Appreciate Art

Art is the ultimate form of expression. It conveys a plethora of human emotion manifested in various forms, using different mediums. The interpretation of art is dependent on the observer. Some observers prefer to describe, or appreciate, an artwork using another form of art. This practice is called ekphrasis.

The Beauty of Ekphrastic Poems

Ekphrasis is a method of interpreting art using another art—a sculpture represents a painting, a painting represents a song. The word ekphrasis itself means “description.” Its origin goes way back to classical Greece. Just like how an image can reflect words, words can also be used to describe a work of art.

An ekphrastic poem makes use of the poet’s imagination. The poet magnifies a photograph, a painting, or a sculpture by looking past the stillness, imagining a particular action implied by the artwork. A poet’s imagination is not the only important thing in creating an ekphrastic poem but also his or her narrative skill. It is this ability that delivers the message to others.

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A stationary work of art is moving in an ekphrastic poem. A still image is given life, extending its message through a different medium. These are what makes an ekphrastic poem unique. A poet breathes life into another artwork in the form of words, immortalizing its meaning.

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An ekphrastic poem somehow brings a different experience, showing readers another point of view. In this way, the poet also gets to express himself, like creating art out of art. This unique style of poetry is a good way to enhance a poet’s skill and appreciate other artists.

Have you tried writing your own ekphrastic poem? What do you like most about it? We can exchange insights about this poetic style and others through my twitter account. Tweet me @ThomasReischel, I would be delighted to hear from you.



Poetry Foundation. “Ekphrasis.” Accessed June 8, 2017.

Scholastic. “Ekphrasis: Poetry About Art.” Accessed June 8, 2017.



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