Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ekphrasis: An Example, with Image and Annotations

Here is an ekphrastic poem of my own, with an image of the subject painting; and a link to a wonderfully informative blog post at a site called "Bioephemera," that is itself a good source of creative inspiration; click the home link after you've browsed the "Stone of Foly" informaion and check out the blogger's other posts.

The poem:

“The Stone Surgery” by Bosch

cut the stone of folly
from my skull
make me a rill
for kingdom’s coming.

Let the engines of the sky come down
to nail and helmet me
funnel me
beneath a metal mouth
an eye.

Fill my simple mind
with wisdom of the stars
give me knowledge
pure, celestial
like yours.

Take up the scoring blade
and core the stone from me
the less, the more
than me.

The image:

The post at Bioephemera:



  1. I find each picture disturbing and this procedure may have been used as a real cure for depression, mental illness and foolishness. And yet trepanning makes sense, in a sick kind of way. I can't imagine how the patient would have survived for very long. Here is a wikipedia link to trepanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trepanation

  2. When I first read this poem I'm not sure if I got the proper meaning but here goes. I think this is an imaginary patient wanting a doctor to prepare him for heaven and meeting God. Taking things from the skull and getting him ready for kindoms coming. Letting angels come down with his halo and fly him back up into the sky. Saying the less you take from him it's going to make it harder for him to pass through heavens gate. But when I got down to the picture it's like nothing I'm imaginig...

  3. This was my favorite exercise, and I liked how we used a picture to tell a story through poetry. The poem that you have used here reminds me of a person having an labotomy done, and he's reflecting on his final moments. It kind of made my skin crawl a little bit, but I did enjoy reading it,

  4. I am glad for anesthesia. I used to often think about going back in time with technology from today. I would picture going to Little House on the Prairie with a Jeep or a machine gun to the Civil War. I think a lot more time went into pictures in the past than it does today. Our phones have cameras. It actually rare to find someone saying something with a picture that has any worth (i.e., advertisements).

  5. I enjoyed doing this assignment. I think that an ekphrastic poem can be taken in so many directions. So many details can be brought up when writing poetry of this nature. I like the idea that the poem can start in one direction based off of the image, and end in a totally different tone. The poem above focuses more on what "the patient" may be thinking, while the entire image together clearly points out his "thoughts".

  6. I enjoyed reading the poem. But, I did not like the image. It's sort of scary seeing the man getting his head cut off, and right there and then that moment he is thinking about while getting his skul cut off. There are so many details in the poem that allows you to picture the image before actually seeing it.

  7. I agree with a few classmates. The pictures are disturbing but I gathered from the poem that this person was asking to be put out of his/her misery. But based on the the poem it sounds as if the doctor would cause more pain but I guess it wouldn't matter because he would soon be gone anyhow. Interesting but still disturbing.