Poetry and Painting

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 painting satisfies the eye whereas poetry appeals to the ear and seeing is superior to hearing. In the 18th century the playwright and philosopher Gotthold Lessing described the intrinsic difference between ainting and poetry in terms of the distinction between image and word. He rejected the ancient belief that these two arts are in fact similar, or as the Roman poet Horace put it: Ut pictura poesis (painting is like poetry). Lessing also pointed out that the domain of painting is space while the domain of poetry is time. In my opinion, transfering a poem exactly to another form is quite an impossible task because of the unique nature of every vernacular and their peticular idioms. And on the other hand, painting as an art form is unique as well.
It can portray astonishingly beautiful or ugly people, or show breathtakingly magnificent or depressingly dull landscapes and still lives and other visual phenomenon, which defy exact verbal description. Generally speaking, objects of the visual world can be represented in painting more accurately than in words. However, poetry has the upper hand in describing emotional states and mental events. A comparison of these two art forms reveals that in many ways both poetry and painting resist conversion, and they mutually defy transference into each other.
However, despite their irreconcilable differences, painting and poetry share many common attibutes. With the development of literature and enlargement of understanding about this world, we have to acknowldge the integration of poetry and painting as well. Through five thousand years of continuous civilization, Chinese art has developed a rich language of symbols. By the second century the image of falling leaves, for instance, had become a metaphor for troubled times in which great talent was cast aside and unjustly punished with exile. Magnificent flowers often symbolize beautiful ladies.
Rising above a lake they may represent fairies with red hair spins walking above the water and one single lotus flower in the Hua Qing Pool is like the entire world. In spite of its fragmentary posture western culture has produced great artists excelling in different branches of art. Among painters and poets the oeuvre of such artists as Michelangelo, Goethe, William Blake, Apollinaire and Picasso shows the unity of painting and poetry. As the proverb goes, “there is a poem painting, painting in poetry”. A successful poem, in my perspective, is the one with a relative aesthetic painting in our mind when we read it.
That is what we called in Chinese Yi Jing. For example, a famous poem in China “Shi Zhi Sai Shang” written by Wang Wei, which gives us a picturesque painting in our mind immediately: the desolation and broadness of a frontier fortress, a puff of smoke and the setting sun…In terms of painting, painter integrates with poetic beauty. In Song dynasty, the task for getting a professional painter certification required examine to draw a painting according to a piece of poem. Poetry enters the painting, bringing the creativity into the painting. Even the limit of time can also be overcome.
In conclusion, although poetry and painting have some differences, they both are important literature forms, we pay more attention to what they bring to us. In my vision painting and poetry invite us to step into a deeper level of reality that lies under the peel of surface appearances. The creativity power of art can play a significant role in ameliorating the human human condition, in making the planet a habitable and welcoming environment for ourselves and for future generations. Without concern, responsibility, care, compassion and love we cannot survive.

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