Poetry Prompt – 14: Ekphrastic Poem – The Luncheon on the Grass

Today, write an ekphrastic poem based on the Impressionist painting “The Luncheon on the Grass” by Edouard Manet. For those who don’t know what an “ekphrastic” poem is:

“An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the ‘action’ of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.” – Poetry Foundation

More simply put, describe the painting through poetry. But, I would like to add, try to describe it in a way that is personal to you.

What is your interpretation of what is happening in the painting? How can you relate it to your own personal poetic style and point-of-view? Is the scene in the painting vulgar? Innocent? Terrifying? Beautiful? Does it project a feeling of familiarity and comfort, or something unnatural, perverted, or perhaps monstrous? Answer these questions for yourself, though your poem.

For those who are interested, here’s a little background on “Luncheon in the Grass”:

“A nude woman casually lunching with two fully dressed men was an affront to the propriety of the time and Manet shocked the French public by exhibiting this painting at the Salon des Refuses in 1863. Although not a realist painting, it is a statement in favour of the artist’s individual freedom. Ever since it was first published, this painting has puzzled audiences and critics alike. There are various interpretations of the painting and people still discuss them at great lengths.” (10 Most Famous Impressionist Paintings)

For more information about Manet and the significance of this painting, look here.

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