Analyzing Ekphrastic Poetry

The myth of Icarus
-King Minos told Daedalus, an inventor, to create a complex maze.
-King Minos imprisoned a monster in this maze.
-A man named Theseus slew the monster.
-Daedalus helpd Theseus elope with King Mino’s daughter.
-As punishment, King Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus.
-Daedalus crafted wings from wax so that he and his son could escape.
-Incarus flew too close to the sun; his wings melted, and he fell to his death.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (ca.


-Was as important sixteenth-century painter
-Included peasants and workers in many of his paintings
-Focused on many different subjects
-Painted Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

Ekpharasis is literature that responds to a work of art.
An ekphrastic poem:
-describes a work of art, such as a painting, photograph, or sculpture.
-interprets a work of art by discussing its message or meaning.

When connecting an ekphrastic poem to a work of art, consider:
-details about the art described in the poem.

-conclusions about the art presented in the poem.
-the word choice and tone of the poem.
-additional ideas expressed in the poem.

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
-Was born in Rutherford, New Jersey
-Worked as a doctor
-Wrote poetry about people, objects, and details of everyday life

W. H. Auden (1907-1973)
-Was born in York, England
-Became a US citizen in 1946
-Is known for his variety of work
-Won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for the long poem The Age of Anxiety

In “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”, Williams mentions “a splash quite unnoticed.

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” Which words from Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” best illustrate this idea of people’s distraction and indifference?

walking dully along

Which statement best describes the subjects of the poems?
The woman in Byron’s poem is youthful; the woman in Poe’s poem is mature.

Consider the painting entitled L’Ambulance de la Gare de Poitiers by Henri Gervex.

What conclusion can be drawn from the painting?

The depiction of a crowded medical facility suggests teamwork and optimism.

Consider this painting entitled The Astronomer by Vermeer.

What does a close observation of the painting reveal about the astronomer?

The objects in the room suggest he is curious or academic.

Consider the poems.

“The Corn Harvest”
by William Carlos Williams and an excerpt from “After Apple Picking”
by Robert Frost

What subject is emphasized in both poems?

the need for rest after work

Consider the painting entitled Woman with a Pearl Necklace by Vermeer.

What idea best states a conclusion about the painting?

The fabrics and accessories indicate the woman’s wealth.

Consider the poems.

“The Corn Harvest”
by William Carlos Williams and an excerpt from “After Apple Picking”
by Robert Frost

How is Frost’s presentation of the subject different than Williams’s?

Williams speakers as an observer, but frost speaks as a participant in the harvest.

Consider the poem.

“The Corn Harvest” by William Carlos Williams

Summer !
the painting is organized
about a young

reaper enjoying his
noonday rest

from his morning labors

in fact sleeping
on his back

the women
have brought him his lunch

a spot of wine
they gather gossiping
under a tree

whose shade
he does not share the

center of
their workaday world.

How does Williams present the subject of the poem?

with peaceful imagery


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Analyzing Ekphrastic Poetry. (2017, Dec 27). Retrieved from

Analyzing Ekphrastic Poetry
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