Ekphrasis – A Poem Inspired by Turner’s Paintings

I’m alive when the sky feels tight

A poem by Natalie Wall responding to the theme ‘Ekphrasis’ and inspired by J. M. W. Turner’s stormy seascape paintings.

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


A poem inspired by J. M. W. Turner’s, Snow Storm, Steam Boat Off a Harbour’s Mouth

I’m alive when the sky feels tight,

the atmosphere braced for a fight.

Flat grey troposphere,

sun straining through cloud

like bridal veil.

Inky sky,

not painterly twilight, muted sunlight, starry night,

but all the colours fallen together,

watered down, muted, diluted, flattened, compacted

to a grey slab of sky.

A fizzing fullness in the air,

it could be pricked and popped

and spilled all over.

All these particles vibrate against me

like those branches

determined to bend not break.

Air the colour of damp,

shadows disappear,

I’m ready for an explosion,

something to shake this earth down

to the ground again.


Natalie is a third year English Literature student and one of the editors of the Bubble’s Creative section who, when not slogging through Lawrence for her dissertation, enjoys reading, writing, painting, and creating edible (or not) experiments in the kitchen.

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