NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-Four – ‘Snails’

Today’s prompt was to do a ekphrasis about the art that appears in Medieval manuscripts – a fun topic. I loved studying that period’s literature in school, and have even been tempted to go to graduate school for it. Now, this is terrible, but damn was it fun to write.


Every morning until a book needed to be born
There came the monks to help a wealthy lord.
They readied many inks, such blues, reds, and greens,
And cowhides collected, vellum made, a layout designed

They took their paints, their knife, and words,
They copied out another, new world – but tedious
So tedious, the days and nights would become
Their tired hands remained only so steady, a break-

A break for a picture or two, or some..
For a story does not keep a monks eyes bold,
But pictures, such pictures, clearly kept the script sold-
They painted such pictures to keep a reading stimulating.

You have the unicorns, the birds, ladies gossiping all in gold,
Knights fighting dragons daringly in red, green, blue, yellow-
But often there was no silver-point to follow and the monks,
The monks did as they felt not as they were told.

But snails, why snails? So many snails everywhere!
They decorated beautiful manuscripts, they were colored
With such care and spirit, yet nobody knows, nobody was told
Or left a letter to tell us why, just why snails were in everything.

These snails won fights. These snails broke knights.
Whole villages are shown trying to put up some sort of fight.
There are knights begging for mercy, stripped bare of all courtesy-
And none of it is shown in the story, none of it explained to give mercy.

Snails are just one of those medieval manuscript mysteries.


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