Ekphrasis is a Greek word, that by definition, is a verbal description of a visual representation. In layman’s terms it’s a poem describing or inspired by a work of art or photograph. Although, it seems to be used for art inspired by a poem as well.

The Da Vinci Days has sponsored an ekphrasis show in conjunction with it’s other activities this year. The challenge? Poets were asked to write a poem inspired by one of Da Vinci’s visual works. The variety of visual works to select from was as wide as his work, from his portraits to schematics for machines. The poems were than offered to artists as inspiration. The artists were not aware of the original inspiration piece but created directly from the poem. A copy of Da Vinci’s work, the poem, and the new art work are then shown together. Communion is the result of this collaboration.

The Poet’s Inspiration: Portrait of a Musician, c. 1485

Portrait of a Musician by Leonardo da Vinci

Image via Wikipedia. Click on this photo to find out more about this work.


The Master

I am the Infinite,
I play out My Melody
unbowed by time.

The Musician

A rhapsody arrives,
and passes from His hand
through mine.

My fingers count the notes
and balance them in measures
line by line.

By my devotion and
His grace, our sacred
songs entwine,

that you shall know
His Celestial Symphony,
His consecrated Rhyme.

Carolyn Sparling, March 2017

Communion: Portrait of a Musician


16″ X 20″ Charcoal and Chalk Copies of this piece can be purchased by clicking on the image or at

As I studied the poem, I began to think about the way the music not only lifts the dancer but controls him as well. To remain in harmony with the music being played, the dancer must match his movements to it. If he wants to move differently, then he must seek a new song.

The Da Vinci ekphrasis project showed at Linn-Benton Community College’s South Santiam Hall Gallery. It will show again during the Da Vinci Days at the Benton County Fairgrounds July 14-16, 2017. A book containing the poems and artwork is available. All proceeds from the book benefit the English Endowment Fund at Linn-Benton Community College.


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