‘Leonardo the Great’ was a painter sublime,
Never rushing to brush while to-do-lists claimed time;
As commissions part-done, lay about, gathered dust,
His attention distracted (to patrons’ disgust).

For he was a man prone to seeking precision,
With theories to ponder, sfumato revision,
Study of waterways, left-handed cross-hatches,
Theatrics and pageants, new questions in batches.

He didn’t seek fortune or crave publication,
As knowledge alone was enough motivation;
And having determined the limits of motion,
He’d turn to invention, dissect for emotion.

Resplendent in cloak of rose color, silk wrapping,
He wandered the marshes in search of birds flapping;
Recording the upbeats, the downbeats, concisely,
Consigning to species their flight means precisely.

Some say that his penchant for leaving unfinished
Detracted from output, and somehow diminished
The breadth of his canvas, extent of his vision –
A life spent in judgement, slow reaching decision.

But each new diversion, like swirls in a millpond,
Let thoughts intermingle before flowing beyond;
And layer by layer, through softness of scumble
He led us to lightness of Lisa’s smile humble.


David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He is Winner of the 2018 Friends of Falun Gong Poetry Competition. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry.

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8 Responses

  1. David Watt

    Thank you David. Leonardo was such an interesting character, skilled in so many areas that numerous poems could be written about his life and works.

  2. Mark Stone

    David, Hello.

    1. In L4, I think “patrons” should have an apostrophe after it.

    2. In L7, I would put a “The” before “study” so that each line in the second stanza starts with an iamb. That type of parallelism appeals to my ear.

    3. I think L7 has one too many syllables at the end. If you were to delete “cross” (i.e., that syllable), then L7 would scan the same as L8.

    4. If you were to begin L12 with “He turned” instead of “He’d turn,” I think it would flow better.

    5. L16 has seven hard vowels (I-E-E-I-E-E-I) and is a masterpiece of assonance (and just a lovely phrase).

    6. To me, leaving out the article (a, an or the) in order to comply with the meter is not a preferred practice. One fix would be to change L19 to read: “The breadth of his canvas, the scope of his vision”

    7. L23 and L24 are two more beautiful lines, and I love the scumble/humble rhyme. However, for me the inversion at the end (“smile humble”) is a big letdown. I just like poetry that reads the way people actually speak.

    8. Overall, this is a gorgeous and fun poem.


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