Poems Inspired by M.C. Escher

Updated on December 16, 2019
chef-de-jour profile image

Andrew has been writing for decades, publishing articles online and in print. His many interests include literature, the arts and nature.

Escher: Hand Draws Hand
Escher: Hand Draws Hand | Source

Escher And His Curious Designs

I first came across Escher and his curious drawings when I was living in London. A dutch visitor to the hostel I was working in gave me a postcard with a pencil drawing of two hands. Both hands were in the process of drawing each other! I thought I was seeing things but on closer inspection I could see that the artist had cleverly arranged the hands (complete with shirt cuffs) to try to fool the observer.

Escher does this constantly in his work, turning the world inside out, creating intense illusions in his own inimitable fashion.

A great draughtsman, he could also create fantastic design and design fantastical pictures. A master of the trompe l'oeuil. They inspired me to write poems.

M.C. Escher
M.C. Escher | Source

Brief Biography of M.C.Escher

Maurits Cornelis Escher was born in Leeuwarden, Friesland, Netherlands in 1898 and died in the same country in 1972. The son of an engineer he struggled with his early studies but was encouraged to study architecture by his father as he showed a talent for drawing.

A chance meeting with a graphics teacher, impressed with Escher's designs, convinced the family that he should put his energies into this more creative field.

Escher began his long career as an artist, traveling to Spain and Italy in the early 1920s. A visit to the Moorish Alhambra in Granada, a palace full of inventive and exotic designs had a great influence on Escher. He was to visit it again in 1936 and declared it :

'the richest source of inspiration I have ever tapped'....

He met his wife to be in Italy, marrying her in 1924 and settling down in Frascati just outside Rome. They stayed 11 years before fleeing the rise of Fascism. With their 3 children they made their way back to northern Europe, Escher making a living from selling prints and designs and trading his work for travel.

Over the years he became a household name. His creative output was based more and more on mathematical patterns and his prints and designs grew in world popularity. In his latter years he lived a quiet but busy life, lecturing in different countries and always producing fresh work. In 1972 following several years of ill health he died.

Escher: Bird Perfect
Escher: Bird Perfect | Source

Bird Perfect

These birds emerging into night

are mirrored by the birds of day

and echoes backwards into light

come forward out of darkest grey.

The land jigsaws into the birds

and shapes their flight away from mind

as sound is captured by the words

to pattern sense for humankind.

But order out of chaos seems

an impossibility. These

birds emerge out of their own dreams,

achieve perfection with such ease.

Escher: Fish
Escher: Fish | Source


The fish swim up

towards the light

of my eye

spiral down

into a shoal

hole. Their synch


eyes see

only into

the symmetry

of their circular plight.

Escher: Lizards
Escher: Lizards | Source


Staring, hoping to escape

their shape he clones them


the ludicrous

lizards in a square mess

of legs and tails

at the edge of time.

Repeat reptiles join faces

for a beautiful life,

your collective fate


on a mathematical


Escher: Waterfall
Escher: Waterfall | Source

Waterfall - Absurd Architecture

Escher had this obsession with the cyclic nature of things in some of his work. Here you see water flowing in these structured channels, turning at abrupt angles before dropping off the end in a continual waterfall. Where does the waterfall go? Down into the same channel! It replenishes itself, then starts to flow upwards, defying gravity. Inside the walls, the man is under the water's spell but the woman is oblivious, going about her daily business, making use of the precious water to clean her clothes! You can enter the mind of the man or the woman and create an endless stream of stories.


Leaning on the shaded wall

he contemplates the waterfall

how it turns the wooden wheel,

grinds all time, makes things real.

Transfixed by the ancestral flow

the man has nowhere else to go

and happy though the flow may be

through self created gravity

there swim no fish, no children play

in the cooling shallow grey.

A serious woman hangs her whites.

She loves the days, hates the nights

so full of crashing noise.

Given the glimpse of choice

she'd be living in the citrus groves

outside, free, like a golden oriole.

Escher : Humanity
Escher : Humanity | Source


Peel me like an orange.

Unravel my skin.

I can see

inside your world

through you to me.

Am I transparent enough

for you?

Are my thoughts

inside your DNA?

We journey through

an imagined cosmos.

The planets cannot

hold the timelessness

of our ideas.


Escher: Relativity
Escher: Relativity | Source


Whichever way you look at it

you're either going up

to an ideal breakfast

or down to join that man

from room 101, that faceless

guy who claims he never

knows if he's coming or going.



This creation seems to be a bit of a nightmare at first glance but once the eyes settle down some order creeps out of this odd structure. Escher always challenges our thinking on normality - this scene is like a fantastic theatre or stage set with great contrast between interior and exterior. Inside there are curious humanoids going up and down and also waiting, looking, perhaps hoping that one day they too will be able to go outside, out into the freedom of the garden where the sun never stops shining.


© 2012 Andrew Spacey


Submit a Comment
  • KrisL profile image


    7 years ago from S. Florida

    Yes! I enjoyed these greatly. I'll return to re-read them and watch the video. Voted awesome, shared, and tweeted.

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    8 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Your love of Escher I share. I've got a huge book full of his sketches and life work - all his classics are in it - but the one thing that always has me scratching my head is the text - it's written in Dutch! All I need is the image thank goodness.

    Much appreciate your visit, thank you.

  • Gulf Coast Sun profile image

    Gulf Coast Sun 

    8 years ago from Gulf of Mexico

    Love, love, love Escher. Have two of his books. All one needs to do to relax is to stare at any of his pictures. I'm hooked on your hubs - a new fan. Voted useful and thumbs up. Kathleen

  • Darrylmdavis profile image


    8 years ago from Brussels, Belgium

    Neat hub! Escher is one of the very few talented artists I can think of that could never, EVER be accused of being boring. ;-)

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    8 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you boyatdelhi. Escher's work can get you thinking and stir up different thoughts and feelings about how we look at the world - how an artist might see interior worlds. His designs are intense and as you say fascinating.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

    Bye for now.

  • boyatdelhi profile image


    8 years ago

    Very interesting and fascinating pictures. Thanks for sharing...

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    8 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Hi pstraubie48

    Escher has so much to offer in terms of design, imagination, graphics, technique - a great landscape artist too in his earlier days! He's inspired all sorts of creativity with his illusions and curious pictures.

    I'm glad you dipped in to take a look.

    bye and thanks again.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    8 years ago from North Central Florida

    So glad you shared this. I did not know Escher and now am inspired to find out more about him. These are works of art that I will be returning to over and over to see 'more the next time'. Thank you for letting us into his world. Voted up

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    8 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Escher so generously allowed me into his fantastic dutch kitchen, provided all the space and utensils and inspiration for my sprinkling of salt and pepper.

    The whole is greater than the parts nicht wahr?

    many thanks tsmog.too kind.

  • tsmog profile image

    Tim Mitchell 

    8 years ago from Escondido, CA

    Fantastic hub chef-de-jour. You really cooked something tasty here. I like it much, may I have seconds? I think I will dash back up for a morsel or two.

    Very awesome indeed. Not knowing you I would like to share. An interesting view would be to take a peek at a field of eclectic psychology known as Gestalt Psychology or therapy. Maybe another hub is (t)here too . . .

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    8 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you Audrey. I very much enjoyed putting this hub together. Escher does tend to draw you right into his world and that can be an intense experience!He has this magical way of opening up your heart and brain to all sorts of new possibilities.

    kind regards.

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    8 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Well, grateful thanks Rahul.

    I think there's only 1 genius at work! His name is M.C. Escher, a true original.

    This artist has also created colour versions of many brilliant designs plus - his earlier landscape work is also worth looking at.

    best wishes and merci beaucoup again.

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    8 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks Eiddwen( that's a special Welsh name I'm guessing?)M.C.Escher had a very unusual view on the world but managed to bring it out through persistence with his talents. I admire artists who can carry on producing great work no matter what.

    I was a bit hesitant with these poemy things because words are words and like to keep themselves to themselves! Pictures and words are a good mix from time to time.

    thanks again and kind regards.

  • Eiddwen profile image


    8 years ago from Wales

    What a great hub and one to vote up without a doubt. Thank you for sharing and I now look forwrd to reading many more by you.

    Take care


  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 

    8 years ago from California

    Lovely, lovely work and it deserves to be seen--

  • rahul0324 profile image

    Jessee R 

    8 years ago from Gurgaon, India

    I am in awe of your poem! I am in awe of Escher's art! I am at a standstill noticing to creative geniuses' work in front of me!

    What a wonderful tribute to a gem in human form...



  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    8 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Humbled Fennelseed. I find Escher's work so rich- I find myself wanting to go deeper into each picture of his and a poem or piece of prose really does help me relate better to his work. I find you can 'mine' his design!

    I have a great big book of his work published by Meulenhoff Amsterdam in 1981 - there are probably more up to date versions - no doubt this will keep me going for decades!

    I'm so glad you share enthusiasm for this uniquely talented dutchman!

    The votes are very welcome.

    kind regards.

  • Fennelseed profile image

    Annie Fenn 

    8 years ago from Australia

    I was drawn to your hub because I absolutely love Escher's incredible, captivating, mesmerising work. Little did I know that here I would find equally incredible, captivaing and mesmerising poems that emphasises the intricisies and puzzlement of this artists work.

    Just incredible: the "circular plight" of the fish, the lizards collective fate, the "wooden wheel" that "grinds all time" making "things real". Sorry I could easily cut and paste it all here. Just awesome!!

    I am an Escher fan, I am now a 'chef-de-jour' fan!! My votes to you and sharing!!

  • chef-de-jour profile imageAUTHOR

    Andrew Spacey 

    8 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    thanks samsammy. Escher's world is so rich in design and beauty. So interesting how he developed his style over the course of his life to become a unique voice in the world of graphics. I find him a great source of inspiration.

    cheers for the vote.


  • samsammy profile image

    Samrat Sinha 

    8 years ago from Gangolli, Karnataka, India

    wow ! nice hub keep it up, well said voted up


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