Ekphrasis: Poetry Confronting Art

What is one of the earliest examples of ekphrasis?
Homer’s blow-by-blow description of how the blacksmith god forged the famous Shield of Achilles in “The Illiad”

Define “ekphrasis”
A vivid description of a thing

What was ekphrasis during the Greek period?
Descriptions of such battle implements, as well as fine clothing, household items of superior craftsmanship (urns, cups, baskets), and exceptionally splendid buildings

What is ekphrasis now?
Understood to focus only on works of art – usually paintings, photographs, or statues. Instead of elaborate description, they try to interpret, inhabit, comfort and speak to their subjects

Who reimagined Homer’s story in his twentieth century poem, “The Shield of Achilles”?
W.H Auden

What is the goal of ekphrasis?
To make the reader envision the thing described as if it were physically present

Which Keats poem that we read uses ekphrasis?
“Ode on a Grecian Urn”

What are two important elements of ekphrasis?
1. The passage implicitly compares visual and verbal means of description
2. The thing being described seems real in the imagination of the reader