The term ekphrasis is Greek in origin, meaning “writing inspired by art”.
So, what better excuse for ekphrasis than Greek statues of antiquity? And where better to find Greek statues, than in a museum?
This past week, the Seine River that bisects the city of Paris ran over its banks, cresting at 21.3 feet. This flooding has meant that the curators of the many art museums and galleries that line the Seine scrambled to save works of art that had been stored below flood level. The Louvre Museum closed to the public as masterpieces were relocated to higher ground.
The lead story for the June 3rd, 2016 NYTimes, “In Paris, the Seine Rises to Highest Level Since 1982” (by Lilia Blaise and Benoit Morenne), reported on this disruption:
The evacuation of artworks from the Louvre, which was closed to visitors, has attracted particular attention…
…An estimated 150,000 artworks in storage rooms and an additional 7,000 pieces in galleries were vulnerable to flooding, and a large portion of those were moved to higher floors as a precaution, officials said.
Here, then, is my art inspired poem-an ekphrasis
A Collection at the Louvre
Ancient visitors, unearthed from the basement,
fix their gaze on pieces from the collection
of 21st Century office furniture
in the famed Louvre’s Salon de Files.
They are stolid, polished rock,
marveling at the smooth steel geometry:
a maze of files and crates;
appraising the nuanced shades of black:
obsidian, charcoal, onyx, jet;
admiring the asymmetrical shapes:
tall, narrow, wide, short.
They note the detailed inset pulls on metal drawers;
they puzzle over the labels on such Decorus artem,
translating into Latin or Greek
the names, dates, and numbers.
They pose and ponder in thought
as they have seen others do.
Sculptures who tilt an antique head
(if there is one)
or raise an antique arm
(if there is one)
to point and question, “Qu’est-ce que c’est?”
something they have heard others say.
Far in the background,
a suspicious guard keeps watch
on this underdressed crowd.
They stand still,
as if poised to hear,
with their cool marbre ears,
the stories contained in these modern repositories.
“Si haec lima loqui. Quod si dixerint ad fabulas ?”
(“If only these files could talk. What stories would they tell?”)
This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Carol Varsalona on her blog Beyond Literacy Link. Stop there to visit some of the other poetic submissions for June 10, 2016.