I Don’t Usually Write Ekphrastic Poetry, But…

I was really happy with my Day 4 poem for the APPF, “How the Cypress Came to Be” (although there are a few iffy lines that could be improved).  I like “origin” poems, and in this one the speaker addresses Cyparissus about (accidentally) slaying the deer that Apollo gave him, and who, in grief, Apollo turns into a tree.  

In Dubufe’s picture, Cyparissus is draped over the deer, and Apollo is gazing at him rather tenderly.  (Well, this was in the Hidden Love postcard book.)  I was looking online for that image so you could see it, and  so far I haven’t found one in color, but you can see it  here in black and whiteBoth of the figures are slender, hardly muscularly developed at all ( youths, I guess you’d say), though Apollo is clearly older, and the concern–love, maybe–that he shows Cyparissus is evident in the way he holds the younger man.  

The Apollo in Dubufe’s picture is much more emotional than the  disdainful Apollo who appears in Pietro Perugino’s Apollo and Marsyas, the image on the postcard I sent yesterday.  I like this painting because it’s from the Renaissance, with a beautiful orangey patina and lovely depth of field.  And the appearance of castle and the mountains in the background amuses me, if only because it strikes me as anachronistic, as if this scene from Greek mythology happened in medieval Italy.  Perugino was known for his more Catholic art, though I seem to recall vaguely that Michelangelo  called him a hack.  Still, there is something almost sweet in the way Perugino has painted Marsyas as he plays his aulos-reed pipe.

In my poem, “Competition,” the speaker addresses Marsyas’s eagerness to engage in a music contest with Apollo, and is critical of him, particularly because in the myth, the Muses are the ones who judge this contest AND Apollo is basically the Muses’ choir master (a slight conflict of interest).  Clearly this is a myth about the perils of hubris, although I like to think in my poem I hint that the reason that Marsyas dies is not simply because the Muses choose Apollo as the winner, but rather because Marsyas was indeed the superior musician, and Apollo was jealous.

However, I am neither a scholar of art nor mythology, so I’m sure there are errors in what I have written here.

I know that the point of the APPF is to try to write a poem that somehow communicates what people usually use postcards for–to write about place.  According to the website, we’re to write about:

. . . Something that relates to your sense of “place” however you interpret that, something about how you relate to the postcard image, what you see out the window, what you’re reading, using a phrase/topic/or image from a card that you got, a dream you had that morning, or an image from it, etc. Like “real” postcards, get to something of the “here and now” when you write.

Perhaps I should make my poems more personal?  Postcards are generally personal, focused on the I.  Although, I have to say, in both of these last two poems, I’ve used direct address, so in a way, I am in the poems.  (Yes, I know, the speaker of a poem isn’t necessarily the poet–please, I wasn’t born yesterday.)  We’ll see.

Tomorrow I think I will choose the postcard of Donato Creti’s painting, The Education of Achilles by Chiron.  I hope the poem will turn out well.

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