The Luminous Details of Poetic Description


  • Poet Ezra Pound described the “luminous details” that reveal and transmit an image swiftly and deeply.
  • Find an image that resonates with you. Write a poem about this object in no more than 10 lines, keeping in mind the art of description, and the luminous details that move the reader.
  • When you have written this poem, write a quick explanation of how exploring the ‘luminous details’ felt to you.


Barn. A poem.

Slumped, your brother’s shoulder a welcome resting place.
The creaking of aging joints, the wind ruffling patchy tresses,
liver spots of brown and red on bleached and crusty skin.
Iron will a testament to endless winter frosts and summer heat. 
Littered memories at your feet, the dust of bitter/better years.

Stephen Thompson

Last year I drove my parents to Queensland for a holiday (I wrote and posted a poem about it at the time); I then picked them up when the holiday was over. (No, I didn’t want to holiday with them. Does that make me a bad son?) 4400 kilometres later, I had nothing to show for it other than this photo I took of an old, collapsing barn outside of Grafton, New South Wales.

I like the use of imagery and metaphor to describe the details of objects, features and conditions. Sometimes my poems are a little too ‘obvious’ in nature, so I like to stretch myself when I can. I enjoy using what poet Ezra Pounddescribed as “luminous details” and acting “as a filter, finding the most resonant, charged details to transmit the image to the reader”.

In this poem I saw the barn as an old man, the dead tree next to it providing support, a literal brother-in-arms. For me it reflects the state of many old and abandoned buildings, but also the aged people in our lives, who are hopefully not as neglected or forgotten.

How do you feel about your own poems? Do you feel you capture the luminous details that Pound mentioned? Why not try this exercise and share the resulting poem with us.


Steve 😊

Published by stevestillstanding

I’m a writer who loves tabletop role playing games, poetry and (you guessed it) writing. Occasionally I have something to say...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: