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Poetry and Art

Mark Tansey "Landscape

Did you know April is National Poetry Month?

Visual art and poetry have a lot in common, and you might be surprised at how interconnected they are. Plutarch said: “Painting is silent poetry and poetry is painting that speaks.”And artists and poets have hob-nobbed together since the Greeks were chipping busts of Aristophanes and Sophocles out of marble in the fourth century BC.

Today, in honor of National Poetry Month, I’m going to pair one of my favorite poems with one of the new artworks now on view in the recently reopened 1940s to Now gallery.  The painting is Mark Tansey’s Landscape, 1994; and the poem is Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias.”

Mark Tansey "Landscape," 1994 Oil on canvas Photograph courtesy of Sotheby’s, Inc. © 2014.

Mark Tansey
“Landscape,” 1994
Oil on canvas
Photograph courtesy of Sotheby’s, Inc. © 2014.

Ozymandias Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792 – 1822 I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed: And on the pedestal these words appear: ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Are there artworks in the galleries that bring certain poems to your mind?  Poems that evoke certain works of art? We’d love to hear what art and poetry connections you are making from the Crystal Bridges collection!  Leave a comment here and let us know!

If you’d like to get a little more poetry in your life, you can go to the website of the American Academy of Poets and sign up to receive a poem a day by email. Or browse their wonderful collection of poems to inspire your next visit to the Museum.

Linda DeBerry
Senior Copy Editor / Publications Manager

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