Poetry Challenge: Mona Lisa’s Smile

by Steve Mitchell

Over at bookstains, they’re having a poetry challenge about the famous Mona Lisa.  You can check out the challenge here.

Initially, nothing sprang to mind.  Then I thought maybe I’d try to do a haiku for the challenge.  But today, since someone has already done a haiku, I decided it would be fun to swing the other way and do a sonnet.

So, that’s what I did.


As Lisa sat, some centuries ago,
she surely didn’t hold a careful pose.
For, even as the artist placed her so,
she must’ve licked her lips or scratched her nose

or blinked her eyes or shifted in her seat,
if only while the artist looked away,
his eyes returning, every time, to greet
her pose, unchanged, throughout the stifling day.

The artist would’ve known, but could ignore
her minor change in posture.  For the light
revealed to him composite truths.  And, more,
his brush obeyed those vagaries of sight.

Enigma never lived in Mona’s smile.
It stems, instead, from Leonardo’s guile.


© Steve Mitchell 2010