Quotes on Poetry: Leonardo da Vinci

What is Art? What is Poetry?

For centuries, people have been asking what is art? Is art a question? An answer? An expression? A statement? Maybe it’s sheer entertainment.

It’s a question we must answer for ourselves, especially artists and writers.

I believe the best art entertains while it provokes thought or emotion, but that’s just my personal opinion. You might seek art that makes you laugh or fills you with awe. Some prefer art that is masterfully crafted, regardless of the content or messages it communicates.

Feeling Poetry

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt,
and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”
– Leonardo da Vinci

In the world of art, poetry is particularly tricky to define because it can be so many things. Consider Dr. Seuss’s frolicking stories written in meter versus the social-political poetry of Adrienne Rich or the tribute poetry of Robert Frost and you soon realize that poetry’s purpose is really the poet’s purpose.

When Leonardo da Vinci talks about a painting as a poem that is seen (as opposed to read), I think he’s making on observation about art, something similar to the idea that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” A single painting can express ideas and emotions that would take a thousand words or more to convey in poetry or prose.

But when he talks about poetry as a painting that is felt rather than seen, he digs into the heart of what poetry can be — text that moves people emotionally. I would expand on that to note that often poetry (and other art) provokes emotions that are difficult or even impossible to put into clear words. Sometimes you read a poem and it makes you feel or understand something, but you couldn’t possibly explain it in concrete terms, and if you could, it would take an essay — or even an entire book — to convey what the poem communicated in a few lines.

That’s the magic of art and poetry. Ultimately, it is a form of communication that is almost psychic in nature.

What does poetry mean to you? How do you define or identify art?

Quote: Goodreads

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.


8 Responses to “Quotes on Poetry: Leonardo da Vinci”

  1. Katherine James says:

    Inspiring… !

    Poetry for me is a means of expression. It is a way to unload a heavy heart, or inspire one.

  2. Hemu says:

    For me poetry is a way of self expression. A way to tell everything without telling everything 🙂

    • Well said: “A way to tell everything without telling everything.” When I was a teenager I used poetry to chronicle my feelings (without realizing that’s what I was doing), and now those old writings are like secret diaries where only I know who and what I was talking about. Heheh.

  3. J. Byron says:

    Truthfully, I just don’t know yet for certain.

    • That’s a good answer. I love it when people are willing to say, “I don’t know,” because too often, I find people answer questions without careful consideration (or the facts). Not knowing means you have something to discover, which is awesome!