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The first acknowledged piece of text-based art is by Simmias of Rhodes, Greek poet and scholar c. 4th century BC. Simmias, who according to Wikipedia, was also the inventor of choriambic hexameter. Big deal. What’s most important about Simmias are a few lovely poems he crafted including the one below, about a double-headed broad-axe, also being in the shape of a double-headed broad-axe. Absolutely radical and unprecedented at the time. It might have also been a good poem.

Crafting poems in the shape of their subject matter, later, about 2400 years later, became a fad as Concrete Poetry and continues today. John Hollander, a rather dry academic-type poet, created Swan and Shadow in 1966, a poem about a swan in the shape of a swan. Some consider it the high-water mark of the form.

John Hollander. Swan and Shadow

Again, big deal.


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