A term from classical rhetoric: the activity of describing pictures with words. The Oxford Classical Dictionary defines it as "an extended and detailed literary description of any object, real or imaginary".

Ekphrasis also has a narrower meaning, related to the vivid verbal or textual description of a work of art - for example, all we have of Greek canvas painting is ekphrastic descriptions.

One famous example of ekphrasis would be "Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.


Someone said my words are a street musician
playing a guitar next to a hat full of quarters,
for an audience of passersby

Someone said my words are a mural
painted on the wall of an old office building,
read by many, remembered by a few.

Someone said my words are a school yard ballet.
Choreographed by the blind,
performed by children too clumsy to know better.

She says my words are magic:
silk scarves pulled from
tattered sleeves

She should know, since she
read them first and
has all the originals.


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