EN3246 Literature and the Other Arts: Poetry and Painting

Semester 2 2012

Rajeev S. Patke




The test will have a choice between 1 example of ekphrasis, 1 of reverse ekphrasis (with Qs attached), and a 3rd choice: to write a short poem based on a given image. Choose any one option in 50 mins. An example of the reverse-ekphrasis type is given below.


Edward Burne-Jones, King Cophetua & the Beggar Maid (1884)

 Tennyson, The Beggar Maid (1842)


 Her arms across her breast she laid;
 She was more fair than words can say:
 Bare-footed came the beggar maid
 Before the King Cophetua.
In robe and crown the king stept down,
To meet and greet her on her way;
`It is no wonder,' said the lords,
She is more beautiful than day.'
 As shines the moon in clouded skies,
 She in her poor attire was seen:
 One praised her ankles, one her eyes,
 One her dark hair and lovesome mien.
 So sweet a face, such angel grace,
 In all the land had never been:
 Cophetua sware a royal oath:
 `This beggar maid shall be my queen!'





 Note that you are dealing with a case of "reverse ekphrasis".

1. In 2 columns, jot down what strikes you most about the dress, appearance and expressions of the king and the beggar maid.

2. Comment on (a) colours and textures, and (b) the overall design and patterning of figures in space.

3. What has Burne-Jones preserved of the mood, tone and overall emotional quality of the poem?

4. What has Burne-Jones added or removed from the overall effect of the poem?

5. What, if anything, has Burne-Jones failed to capture in terms of the mood or atmosphere of the poem?