Poetry and Painting

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Analysis on the Relationship Between Poetry & Painting

An analysis on the relationship between poetry and painting

Lope De Vega, in one of his sonnets, refers to two famous contemporaries in a striking way; he calls the Italian poet Marino “a great painter for the ears” and the Flemish painter Rubens “a great poet for the eyes”. Six hundred year and 6000 miles away, a similar concept occurs in a parallel situation. The Chinese poet Su Shi, in one of his poems, praises two men, one a poet and the other a painter: “Tu Fu’s poems are figureless paintings, Han Kan’s paintings are wordless poems. In both poems, a very special relationship is established between poetry and painting. They are considered parallel and comparable; more than that, they take each other’s place. A comparative treatment of the same phenomenon in two widely seperated and obviously unrelated literatures may bring out siginificant differents as well as integritions.

Actually, the conversation between poetry and painting has been through centuries, traced back to 6th century until now, different people have different opinions. For Plato, poets and painters are both imitators and their work a third-generation removed from the truth. For Aristotle, “The poet being an imitator just like the painter or other maker of likenesses, he must necessarily in all instances represent things in one or other of three aspects, either as they were or are, or as they are said or thought to be or to have been, or as they ought to be.”

More than five hundred years ago Leonardo da Vinci entered into a stinging debate with a bunch of pompous poets who degraded painting as a mechanical art. Defending the primacy of art, Leonardo---painter, architect, scientist, and a genius of high Renaissance---snapped: “If you call painting dumb poetry the painter may call poetry blind painting.” He argued that a good painter can provide a more intelligible and beautiful sense experience than a poet because...
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