Spiral poems

The birth of European visual poetry is attributed usually to Simmias of Rhodes (5th-4th centuries BCE). Simias have chosen three objects for his poems in forms of these objects: labrys (a double axe), wings and an egg. Since Minoan Crete, the labrys was seen as a symbol of power. Simmias wrote about a particular axe belonging to the Ancient Greek warrior and carpenter Epeius of Phocis. With this axe, he built the Wooden Horse of Troy. The poem was inscribed on a votive copy of this axe, given to the temple of Athena, to honour the Goddess Athena. The original poem on an origina axe has not survived to our days, though in some copies we can see the lines of the poem organised into a spiral. That is, a spiral can be found at the very beginnings of European visual poetry.
After Simmias, the Greek poets started to write figure poems, that is poems about objects in the form of these objects. After them - Latin poets of the Late Antiquity, then, centuries after them, the poets of the Late Middle Ages, then baroque poets, avant-garde poets, then modern poets. Dosiadas wrote poems in the form of an altar, Theocritus - in a form of a shepherd's horn, Vestius - a dedication to Emperor Hadrian in a form of an alter, and also an acrostic. New forms arose with Christianity: the figures of cross and the chalice. Publilius Optatianus Porfirius in the 4th century, created visual poems in the form of an altar, a pipe, a hydraulic organ (by which one can understand its structure), a palm tree, a prism and a ship. Rabano Mauro and St.Bonifacio created labyrinth poems, highlighting some letters within the text. Other forms included a triangle and a star, a sun and a heart, musical instruments, a flower pot, a bottle, a pyramid, a knot. Some figures were specially used for love poems and dedications, others - for Bacchus poems, some - for religious hymns and epitaphs.
Figure poems were popular during the Baroque era, as emblems or symbols. Everything appeared as a system of symbols created as a divine poem, a mystery that cannot be solved by a person. But a poet could become a creator himself, creating poems in accordance to the same eternal incomprehensible concept. In the 19th century, visual poems together with many formal poetic techniques were seen as entertainment, a fun for a student. The poems became rarer and simpler. The new surge of interest to visual poetry arose at the beginning of the 20th century with the emergence of avant-garde art, looking for new artistic techniques and playing with graphics, with the size and shape of the letters, with their arrangement on a page. The late 20th century brought concrete poetry and new technologies of video poetry, followed in the 21st century by media poetry, web poetry, and others.
Twenty-five centuries of European figural poetry, counting from Simmias, hundreds and thousands of poems in the form of objects, circles, stars, suns, moon, goblet, tree, bird, fountain... whereas spiral poems are extremely rare, no more than a dozen for until the late 20th century!
We present here European visual poems in the form of a spiral, from the ancient times to contemporaneity.
This began long before Simmias! Even if we cannot comprehend the Phaistos disc, the signs there are arranged in a spiral, on both sides of the disc. The most ancient depiction of a spiral in human history was probably on Newgrange rock even if there was no letters on them. One can also recall Hindu mantras in a form of a spiral, and other manifestations of the universal symbol in different cultures. But this collection is on the European spiral poems.
Their history mirrors the whole history of European visual poetry: thoughtful meditation, an eschotological warning on the eve of the Reformation, wordgame and fun, an avant-garde vision, a modern prayer to the lost and unattainable, again a wordgame and kids' fun, the search for a new language and the new technologies and more, and more, and more.
How many spirals have appeared in recent years - compared to past centuries!
How many new spirals will be add to the collection?
The spiral folds and unfolds, and never ends!

History of spirals in visual poetry