It is thought ekphrastic poetry originated with Homer, who the ancient Greeks believed was the first and greatest of the epic poets. The earliest known example of ecraphsis is encountered in Book 18 of Homer’s Iliad and describes the Shield of Achilles, created by the god Hephaestus. Homer uses the 130 lined poem to describe every feature of the shield in extreme detail, bringing the shield alive on the page.
A recreation of Homer’s poem was published in 1952 by W. H. Auden called The Shield of Achilles in which Auden uses two different stanza forms. The stanzas were either very short lines or very long lines. The stanza with the shorter lines describes scenes of what Achilles mother would expect to find on the shield, however in Auden’s version, the shield was never made, which I found really powerful.
I love how poetry tells a story and sometimes the story behind a painting can become lost when presented with visual beauty, so for writers to create poems from paintings I think is absolutely brilliant. It is my belief ekphrastic poetry can be wonderful and is something that should be explored more by poets.
Share your thoughts below. All comments and suggestions are welcome.