Hauntings Soldier: ekphrasis

We were at a book launch during the week. The Loneliness of the Sasquatch by Amanda Bell, a friend of Christine’s. It’s a translation of a work written in Irish by Gabriel Rosenstock. Actually, it’s more than a translation. Amanda specialises in creating poetry in accordance with Japanese tradition: haiku and the like. So her book is more a transcreation.

The word ekphrastic was used in the book. It’s my new favourite word! It’s the adjective of ekphrasis, which means, in short, a description of a work of art in which the description itself constitutes a work of art. The idea is that the practitioner describes or references the work of art (which can be real or imagined) in a vivid and/or evocative manner in poetry or prose in such a way that it stands alone as a creative entity.

On Saturday, I went to see the ‘Hauntings Soldier’. Jane, my dear step-mother, a lively, interesting and refreshingly curious octogenarian had suggested that I see it before its removal from its placement just beside the Fusilier’s Arch in St Stephen’s Green.

Here it is


And here is my attempt at ekphrastic writing …

Out of time
Under a gunmetal November sky
Against the backdrop of the skeletons of winter trees
A giant haunting presence
Feet planted firmly in Dublin mud
Gaiters tightly wrapped
Steadied by his rifle
Cap pulled low over furrowed brow
Uniform and equipment unsullied.
He gazes at the Royal College of Surgeons
A ghostly echo of our troubled past.
What horrors has he seen or sent men to?
What horrors are buried deep
In mind, in earth; or scattered
in the blood-soaked fields of Flanders and France?
Destroyed hopes, destroyed futures, human scrap.
Like the metal gathered up. Now remade.
Now the Hauntings Soldier.

I’m OK with this, as a first attempt.