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Famous Painting Poems by Famous Poets

These are examples of famous Painting poems written by some of the greatest and most-well-known modern and classical poets. PoetrySoup is a great educational poetry resource of famous painting poems. These examples illustrate what a famous painting poem looks like and its form, scheme, or style (where appropriate).

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by Burns, Robert
...s meteor-ray,
 By passion driven;
But yet the light that led astray
 Was light from Heaven.

“I taught thy manners-painting strains,
The loves, the ways of simple swains,
Till now, o’er all my wide domains
 Thy fame extends;
And some, the pride of Coila’s plains,
 Become thy friends.

“Thou canst not learn, nor I can show,
To paint with Thomson’s landscape glow;
Or wake the bosom-melting throe,
 With Shenstone’s art;
Or pour, with Gray, the moving flow
 Warm on the ...Read more of this...

by Thomas, Dylan
...en you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that
an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the
trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the
red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds. Hardboileds, toffee, fudge and allsorts, crunches,
cracknels, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh for the Welsh. And troops of...Read more of this...

by Smart, Christopher> 

With vinous syrup cedars spout; 
From rocks pure honey gushing out, 
 For ADORATION springs; 
All scenes of painting crowd the map 
Of nature; to the mermaid's pap 
 The scaled infant clings. 

The spotted ounce and playsome cubs
Run rustling 'mongst the flow'ring shrubs, 
 And lizards feed the moss; 
For ADORATION beasts embark, 
While waves upholding halcyon's ark 
 No longer roar and toss. 

While Israel sits beneath his fig, 
With coral root...Read more of this...

by Dryden, John
...othing long:
But in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon:
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking;
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Blest madman, who could every hour employ,
With something new to wish, or to enjoy!
Railing and praising were his usual themes;
And both (to show his judgment) in extremes:
So over violent, or over civil,
That every man, with him, was god or devil.
In squandering wealth w...Read more of this...

by Collins, Billy
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
a device...Read more of this...

by Whitman, Walt
 also vinegar-makers, 
Leather-dressing, coach-making, boiler-making, rope-twisting, distilling, sign-painting,
 lime-burning, cotton-picking—electro-plating, electrotyping, stereotyping, 
Stave-machines, planing-machines, reaping-machines, ploughing-machines,
The cart of the carman, the omnibus, the ponderous dray; 
Pyrotechny, letting off color’d fire-works at night, fancy figures and jets;
Beef on the butcher’s stall,...Read more of this...

by Browning, Robert
...e phare, 
Men turn from the sun's self to see, is mine; 
The P?o'er-storied its whole length, 
As thou didst hear, with painting, is mine too. 
I know the true proportions of a man 
And woman also, not observed before; 
And I have written three books on the soul, 
Proving absurd all written hitherto, 
And putting us to ignorance again. 
For music,--why, I have combined the moods, 
Inventing one. In brief, all arts are mine; 
Thus much the people know and recognize...Read more of this...

by Hikmet, Nazim
her smile more famous than Florence.


A Chinese bamboo frame.
In the frame is a painting.
Under the painting, a name:
 "La Gioconda"...
In the frame is a painting:
 the eyes of the painting are burning, burning.
In the frame is painting:
 the painting in the frame comes alive, alive.
And suddenly
 the painting jumped out of the frame
 as if from a window;
 her feet hit the ground.
And just as I shouted her na...Read more of this...

by Collins, Billy
through the air of every room.

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.

And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

It's the one about the one-ton temple bell
with the moth sleeping on its su...Read more of this...

by Yeats, William Butler
...changeless work of art.
Our learned men have urged
That when and where 'twas forged
A marvellous accomplishment,
In painting or in pottery, went
From father unto son
And through the centuries ran
And seemed unchanging like the sword.
Soul's beauty being most adored,
Men and their business took
Me soul's unchanging look;
For the most rich inheritor,
Knowing that none could pass Heaven's door,
That loved inferior art,
Had such an aching heart
That he, although a country...Read more of this...

by Browning, Robert


Wherever a fresco peels and drops,
Wherever an outline weakens and wanes
Till the latest life in the painting stops,
Stands One whom each fainter pulse-tick pains:
One, wishful each scrap should clutch the brick,
Each tinge not wholly escape the plaster,
---A lion who dies of an ass's kick,
The wronged great soul of an ancient Master.


For oh, this world and the wrong it does
They are safe in heaven with their backs to it,
The Michaels and Raf...Read more of this...

by Koch, Kenneth
One evening may hide another, one shadow, a nest of shadows.
One dark red, or one blue, or one purple—this is a painting
By someone after Matisse. One waits at the tracks until they pass,
These hidden doubles or, sometimes, likenesses. One identical twin
May hide the other. And there may be even more in there! The obstetrician
Gazes at the Valley of the Var. We used to live there, my wife and I, but
One life hid another life. And now she is gone an...Read more of this...

by Lowell, Amy

Eunice lay long awake in the cool night After 
her husband slept. She gazed with joy
Into the shadows, painting them with bright Pictures of all 
her future life's employ.
Twin gems they were, set to a single jewel, Each shining with 
the other. Soft she turned
And felt his breath upon her hair, and prayed Her 
happiness was earned.
Past Earls of Crowe should give their blood for fuel
To light this Frampton's hearth-fire. By no cruel
Affrighti...Read more of this...

by Ashbery, John
Amazed the soldiers who burst in on him;
They decided to spare his life, but he left soon after;
Vienna where the painting is today, where
I saw it with Pierre in the summer of 1959; New York
Where I am now, which is a logarithm
Of other cities. Our landscape
Is alive with filiations, shuttlings;
Business is carried on by look, gesture,
Hearsay. It is another life to the city,
The backing of the looking glass of the
Unidentified but precisely sketched studio.Read more of this...

by Whitman, Walt
...very woman too; 
To use the hammer, and the saw, (rip or cross-cut,) 
To cultivate a turn for carpentering, plastering, painting, 
To work as tailor, tailoress, nurse, hostler, porter,
To invent a little—something ingenious—to aid the washing, cooking, cleaning, 
And hold it no disgrace to take a hand at them themselves. 

I say I bring thee, Muse, to-day and here, 
All occupations, duties broad and close, 
Toil, healthy toil and sweat, endless, without cessation,
The old...Read more of this...

by Byron, George (Lord)
...male writer of this, perhaps of any age, on the analogy (and the immediate comparison excited by that analogy) between "painting and music," see vol. iii. cap. 10, "De L'Allemagne." And is not this connexion still stronger with the original than the copy? with the colouring of Nature than of Art? After all, this is rather to be felt than described; still, I think there are some who will understand it, at least they would have done had they beheld the countenan...Read more of this...

by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
...and, and fell. 
And up into the sounding hall I past; 
But nothing in the sounding hall I saw, 
No bench nor table, painting on the wall 
Or shield of knight; only the rounded moon 
Through the tall oriel on the rolling sea. 
But always in the quiet house I heard, 
Clear as a lark, high o'er me as a lark, 
A sweet voice singing in the topmost tower 
To the eastward: up I climbed a thousand steps 
With pain: as in a dream I seemed to climb 
For ever: at the last I reac...Read more of this...

by Aiken, Conrad
...shedding light behind me—
An eye-shade round my forehead. There I sit,
Twirling the tiny brushes in my paint-cups,
Painting the pale pink rosebuds, minute violets,
Exquisite wreaths of dark green ivy leaves.
On this leaf, goes a dream I dreamed last night
Of two soft-patterned toads—I thought them stones,
Until they hopped! And then a great black spider,—
Tarantula, perhaps, a hideous thing,—
It crossed the room in one tremendous leap.
Here,—as I coil the stems b...Read more of this...

by Miller, Alice Duer
...e library of Trinity, 
The quadrangle of Clare, 
John bought a pipe from Bacon, 
And I acquired there 
The Anecdotes of Painting 
From a handcart in the square.

The Playing fields at sunset
Were vivid emerald green,
The elms were tall and mighty,
And many youths were seen,
Carefree young gentlemen
In the Spring of 'Fourteen.

London, just before dawn-immense and dark—
Smell of wet earth and growth from the empty Park, 
Pall Mall vacant-Whitehall deserted. Joh...Read more of this...

by Piercy, Marge
Why should we want to live inside ads? 
Why should we want to scourge our softness 
to straight lines like a Mondrian painting? 
Why should we punish each other with scorn 
as if to have a large ass
were worse than being greedy or mean?

When will women not be compelled
to view their bodies as science projects,
gardens to be weeded,
dogs to be trained?
When will a woman cease
to be made of pain?...Read more of this...

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