Ekphrastic Blog # 31

In the 15th century, the devil was green, as depicted by Michael Pacher in this Saint Wolfgang panel (1471-1475, Alte Pinakothek, Munich)

Editor’s Note: This post has been written by Linda K. Strahl, an editor at the Jet Fuel Review. Her full bio can be found at the end of this post.

A few months ago my Inspiration to Publishing class had an assignment to write a poem about a color. I chose green, mainly because it was my mother’s favorite color and the history behind the color green is extremely vast. When you write a poem about a color it is always better to look at its history first, before you dive into the poem saying: emerald green, grass green and turquoise. These colors are expected, an important topic that Dr. Muench wants her pupils to avoid.

“The Japanese Bridge,” 1899 Monet


“The job of the poet, is to keep their audience engaged by surprising them with the unexpected.” So how did I approach the bland color green in an unexpected way? I researched every possible shade within works of art. By including the tints of Crayola Crayons, OPI nail polish, and painting palates I found that green was not only infamous as poison, but also colored the devils, the saintly faces and robes of religion. Take a moment to look at the paintings I found. Each have distinct greens and are therefore specified pieces in my work. To make it interesting I added the modern colors and shades of Crayola. Along with the site’s  inspirations for the other lesser known shades of green in the world.

More inspirations are obviously in the poem and I plan on linking each source because some things are better explained by their pictures. But there are some facts that I thought I would vet out for my audience. In the same website, linked by these pictures, I discovered that there are some conspiracy theories involving the death of Napoleon Bonaparte and the paint color named “Scheele’s Green.” The same color is also attributed to the blinding of Monet because of its arsenic properties. An emerald green was also considered poisonous and had been used in the dyeing of dresses and socks in the Victorian era. This timeline is something I began to link together by topic and color, but as I got further along I decided that I had to add some science into the mix.

The Runaway of Tarantulas is a star in the Hubble Telescope Gallery, which I mentioned briefly in a post I wrote on February 12, 2012. I added the Pinwheel Galaxy for its popularity on desktop backgrounds, which had a convenient  “green component” tint I include in the poem. To bring the poem back to Earth I mentioned the coastal elevation of green. I used modern art with the molten glass from the Toyota Tribute (a site I have misplaced at the moment) that links to my car I had scratched up with a fence that weekend. Ironically my car and the fence, were both shade of green. If that was not kismet, I don’t know what is.

Science again surfaces because cobalt green is currently used to link microchips to memory boards and the “spintronic” is where the color also allows computers to run faster and stay at room temperatures. Artwork is then added again through the green clothes and faces of saints and sinners in the Louvre. I could add more to this poem, and at some point I believe I will, with more research. I also need to work on line breaks and formatting everywhere. For now, my audience has a chance to look at an attempt to give GREEN its limelight. Enjoy!

Painted Poison

As the Friar’s Devil haunts his shadow
Offering a deal in hunter’s dress,                      *hunter’s dress: green to blend in with the surroundings
Your arsenic pigments of Crayola Crayons
Highlight and shade the Devil’s skin in
Asparagus; inchworm; olive-
Scheele blinds the peaceful tranquility of
A Japanese Bridge, holding the tints of
Magic Mint; Fern; Shamrock; Yellow green-
The Simply Smashing muted hues
Hand death to an exiled emperor
and cling to cinched corseted gowns of fashonistas.
Your earth green, Here Today… Aragon Tomorrow              O.P.I
Paints Osiris the Jolly Green Giant of Egypt,
Egyptian painting, Osiris
Your frosted malachite ring in the death
and birth of stars’ as gaseous clouds halo
the Runaway of Tarantulas
Your lime frequency clings to visible lights
of PinWheel Galaxy hanging in Green Component,
You ring yourself around coastal plains of continents.
As your color is molten glass
is shown in a Toyota tribute.
The Capri Green is craved in riveted scratches
Caused by clingy spikes of a cobalt green
linking Microchips with spintronic technology
to room temperature.
Your sainted garb of Verdigris
of copper and turpentine,
Leak through the masterpiece
tainting the viridain floors of France.
        By: Linda K. Strahl
Editor’s Note: Linda K Strahl is a transfer student from University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, where she was studying Archaeology and minoring in Creative Writing. She came to Lewis University in Fall of 2010 to major in Creative Writing. After participating in the production of two plays at Phillip Lynch Theater she has become an enthusiastic dramaturg, and is contemplating a career as a researcher and playwriter.

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