Ekphrasis – A Poem Inspired by Herbert James Draper’s The Lament for Icarus (1898)

A poem by James Murphy responding to the theme ‘Ekphrasis’ and inspired by the oil painting The Lament for Icarus by Herbert James Draper (1898).

‘Ekphrasis’ – the literary description of, or commentary on, a work of art.

Photo by James Murphy


Boys can be broken, doomed by youth,

Their natures forged to frenzy.

Ambitions reckless, still uncouth,

Fuelling lust, anger and envy.

We strive for what we cannot hold,

And care not for what we own,

Yearnings misguiding ’til we’re old,

Longing for a bird that’s flown.

Forgive the young for we know not,

Lessons Time to our elders taught.


But still we learn some, day by day,

Each sunset seals new knowledge.

Yet we’re kept from speaking our say:

Voice withheld, locked in college.

In youth days pass not quick enough,

Sunrises promise glory;

But darkened night brings its own bluff

And writes a different story.

Appetites whetted, passions flare,

Boykind, caught in hormone’s snare.


From women all of us are born,

And to them many return,

The fairer sex we should not scorn,

But her graces young men spurn.

Driven by their sex they long for

More than just a boy to be.

Yet to many, too many more,

They cling to misogyny.

A claim so wrong it cannot stand,

Built on foundations of sand.


Man is born from that womankind,

And borne by them their life long.

Hand in hand both sexes will find,

Strength to fit where they belong.

When our wings are singed by youth’s heat

And downwards we fall towards,

Caught in another’s arms we meet,

And with them we move forwards.

How much longer til we see,

Without the other we can’t be?


James Murphy is a postgraduate Masters student in International Relations and one of the Creative editors and photographers at The Bubble. Writing and reading have always been a major and loved part of his life, whether it’s poetry or analyses of Asian economic markets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Our YouTube Channel