Friday, 19 July 2013

Christina Rossetti's 'Colour': "Clouds Are Violet In the Summer Twilight"

Alphonse Mucha, Summer, 1896.

I wanted a summery poem without a dark subtext, so here is Christina Rossetti's 'Colour'.

(By the way, if my posts are a little thin on commentary or analysis for the moment...blame the heat.)

COLOUR (Christina Rossetti)

What is pink? a rose is pink
By a fountain's brink.
What is red? a poppy's red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? the sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro'.
What is white? a swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? the grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!


  1. Dear Clarissa
    I love your quotes by Neruda and Celan on poetry as a living force that speaks to us, now more than ever. For some time now, there has been a trend towards 'poetry therapy' - something which comes to us from the States, but is far less worthy and didactic than it sounds. Here in the UK, there is a broader movement towards creative writing for therapeutic purposes (CWTP), which straddles the boundary between social science and art form, and seeks to bring writing in all its forms, including poetry, into the 'heartland' of myriad environments, from community centres to hospital wards.
    A 'message in a bottle' can often wash up on previously stony ground, empowering those who felt excluded from certain art forms – including poetry – to realise the relevance it has in their own lives.
    Thank you for sharing some lovely poems and insightful comments here.
    (Incidentally, to know more about CWTP, visit

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. Celan's work is especially interesting from a psychological perspective, I think. Thanks for the link on CWTP. I am very interested in poetry not only as an art form, but as a concept, if that makes sense - ie. the force it can have in people's lives by so many means, which is why part of the point of this blog has been for me to look for poetry wherever I go.

    2. I share the same outlook. I 'collect' poetry wherever possible, both in overheard words and in writing that I discover either through happenstance or curiosity. Rossetti's poem, above, is one that I've found to be appreciated by so many different people in community settings, who have often been 'turned off' poetry by negative experiences at school. It was lovely to come across it here, with such well-thought-out illustrations