One prompt for 12 poems in 12 months earlier this year was Ekphrastic.

No I didn’t know what it meant either until I looked it up.

The Christmas Cracker
by W H Tweed (1840-1899)

Apparently it means talking about stuff to do with art. My poem is below. It started as blank verse but kind of strayed into rhyme.

(OK, it’s still a bit early for Christmas, but this print hangs behind our dining table all year round. It isn’t necessarily my favourite, but it was easy to write about and I could take a royalty-free photo of it.)

The Christmas Cracker

Muted browns and tans and greys:
ambience of an earlier age.
Foreground white attracts our gaze…
Hero in the combat?
There’s wildness in his rival’s hackles.
The prize at stake, a Christmas cracker.
Dogs the contenders; dogs the spectators
And a small cat.

Not like dogs playing pool or poker:
canine card-sharps wearing clothing.
These have fur that calls for stroking.
And yet…

Terriers, spaniels, and a cat
all idly watch the tug-of-war.
An open hearth, so not a barn,
But rough.
Befitting tooth and claw.

Coarse wooden table, threadbare rug,
Vast ash-strewn fireplace, wooden tub.
Hunting dogs? A keeper’s lodge?
Or below stairs, masters all above?

My terriers love a tug-of-war,
their four feet braced against the floor,
all snort and spat.
But these two hardly seem to care
who wins the prize. Both sitting there,
while no dog watching turns a hair,
Nor does the cat.

Much like early photography,
it’s faithful in its imagery,
but no life’s in it.
Each loving brush stroke of the fur,
Conveys the likeness of the cur
but not the spirit.


What do you think of the painting?

Do you have a favourite hanging on your walls?

6 thoughts on “Ekphrastic

  1. Thanks. I have framed photos of all my previous dogs, but for Digger and Pickle (the white one with the Christmas toy and the retreating old Staffie) we had a calendar printed for the family in the year Pickle retired with us permanently. Sadly both are now gone. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The great thing about most dogs is their enthusiasm and devotion to their owners, I use owners with some hesitancy as it is often difficult to determine who owns who.
    All of your dogs that I have met, I have liked, Smidgen and Ruff are both very friendly, lively characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Coarse it should! – now updated. I have a vague memory of changing that on the ’12 poems in 12 months’ posting but must have forgotten to correct it on the original that I cut-and-paste on to here. Thanks for the heads-up. 🙂


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