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Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.



Simply put, ekphrasis is writing about the visual arts. The writing could be poetry or prose, a play or a novel, as long as the writing attempts to describe a piece of visual art—a painting, sculpture, tapestry, whatever—in some way or another.

John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is a famous example of ekphrasis, as is Homer's description of the Shield of Achilles in The Iliad.