Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ekphrasis in/on the Blessed Damozel

Take a look at Rossetti's painting; if you click on the image, you'll get a larger view, and you can see the poem inscribed on the bottom of the frame. As we discussed with Browning and Tennyson, ekphrasis is the technical term for a work of art that imitates or represents another work of art in a different medium, usually the verbal representation of visual representation. In this case, the direction of representation is reversed, and raises questions about how the painting asks us to interpret the poem. Does it offer a particular interpretation? Tell us how to read the poem? In its material presentation, this work creates the image as the true text, and the poem serves as a kind of footnote that explains the image: is Rossetti suggesting that the poem works in the service of something other than itself? How then does thiis suggest we understand his illustrations to his sister's poem "Goblin Market"?

1 comment:

  1. I think it is very interesting because in the painting we can visually see the separation that exists between she and her estranged lover. However, although we assume the poem is from his perspective, it is interesting that she takes up so much the painting's space. One would think it would be the other way around, but perhaps that suggests that although he is given more agency as he able to speak directly, the poem is more concerned with her and the mystical condition she represents in the poem.