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Color Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Color by Christina Rossetti
  2. Colors by Stephen Vincent Benét
  3. Colors by Margaret E. Sangster
  4. Color Effect by William Henry Dawson
  5. Color in the Wheat by Hamlin Garland
  6. The Chameleon by James Merrick
  7. Blue by Annette Wynne
  8. Green by Amos Russel Wells
  9. Nature rarer uses yellow by Emily Dickinson
  10. Symphony in Yellow by Oscar Wilde
  11. October by Annette Wynne

  1. Color

    by 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!

  2. Colors

    by Stephen Vincent Benét

    The little man with the vague beard and guise
    Pulled at the wicket. "Come inside!" he said,
    "I'll show you all we've got now—it was size
    You wanted?—oh, dry colors! Well"—he led
    To a dim alley lined with musty bins,
    And pulled one fiercely. Violent and bold
    A sudden tempest of mad, shrieking sins
    Scarlet screamed out above the battered gold
    Of tins and picture-frames. I held my breath.
    He tugged another hard—and sapphire skies
    Spread in vast quietude, serene as death,
    O'er waves like crackled turquoise—and my eyes
    Burnt with the blinding brilliance of calm sea!
    "We're selling that lot there out cheap!" said he.

  3. Colors

    by Margaret E. Sangster

    I love color.
    I love flaming reds,
    And vivid greens,
    And royal flaunting purples.
    I love the startled rose of the sun at dawning,
    And the blazing orange of it at twilight.

    I love color.
    I love the drowsy blue of the fringed gentian,
    And the yellow of the goldenrod,
    And the rich russet of the leaves
    That turn at autumn-time....
    I love rainbows,
    And prisms,
    And the tinsel glitter
    Of every shop-window.

    I love color.
    And yet today,
    I saw a brown little bird
    Perched on the dull-gray fence
    Of a weed-filled city yard.
    And as I watched him
    The little bird
    Threw back his head
    Defiantly, almost,
    And sang a song
    That was full of gay ripples,
    And poignant sweetness,
    And half-hidden melody.

    I love color....
    I love crimson, and azure,
    And the glowing purity of white.
    And yet today,
    I saw a living bit of brown,
    A vague oasis on a streak of gray,
    That brought heaven
    Very near to me.

  4. Color Effect

    by William Henry Dawson

    Have you noticed that some colors
    Really grate upon your nerves,
    Till you feel just like the pitcher
    Looks when he is twirling curves,
    Trying hard to fan the batter,
    Causing him to pound the air—
    Feeling for the little bullet
    Just to find it was not there?
    Other colors set you frantic,
    Calling back your childhood days,
    When you cut some funny antic,
    Or engaged in childish plays.
    Others set the pumps agoing,
    And the fountain of your tears
    Starts, in spite of you, to flowing
    Like it flowed in other years.
    But the one that really thrills your
    Heart until you want to sing,
    Is the red which you discovered,
    When a boy, in blackbird's wing.

  5. Color in the Wheat

    by Hamlin Garland

    Like liquid gold the wheat field lies,
    A marvel of yellow and russet and green,
    That ripples and runs, that floats and flies,
    With the subtle shadows, the change, the sheen,
    That play in the golden hair of a girl,—
    A ripple of amber—a flare
    Of light sweeping after—a curl
    In the hollows like swirling feet
    Of fairy waltzers, the colors run
    To the western sun
    Through the deeps of the ripening wheat.

    Broad as the fleckless, soaring sky,
    Mysterious, fair as the moon-led sea,
    The vast plain flames on the dazzled eye
    Under the fierce sun's alchemy.
    The slow hawk stoops
    To his prey in the deeps;
    The sunflower droops
    To the lazy wave; the wind sleeps—
    Then swirling in dazzling links and loops,
    A riot of shadow and shine,
    A glory of olive and amber and wine,
    To the westering sun the colors run
    Through the deeps of the ripening wheat.

    O glorious land! My western land,
    Outspread beneath the setting sun!
    Once more amid your swells, I stand,
    And cross your sod-lands dry and dun.
    I hear the jocund calls of men
    Who sweep amid the ripened grain
    With swift, stern reapers; once again
    The evening splendor floods the plain,
    The crickets' chime
    Makes pauseless rhyme,
    And toward the sun,
    The colors run
    Before the wind's feet
    In the wheat!

  6. The Chameleon

    by James Merrick

    Oft has it been my lot to mark
    A proud, conceited, talking spark,
    With eyes that hardly served at most
    To guard their master ’gainst a post;
    Yet round the world the blade has been,
    To see whatever could be seen.
    Returning from his finish’d tour,
    Grown ten times perter than before,
    Whatever word you chance to drop,
    The travell’d fool your mouth will stop.
    “Sir, if my judgment you’ll allow,
    I’ve seen, and sure I ought to know.”
    So begs you’d pay a due submission,
    And acquiesce in his decision.

    Two travellers of such a cast,
    As o’er Arabia’s wilds they pass’d,
    And on their way, in friendly chat,
    Now talk’d of this, and then of that,
    Discoursed awhile, ’mongst other matter,
    Of the Chameleon’s form and nature.
    “A stranger animal,” cries one,
    “Sure never lived beneath the sun:
    A lizard’s body lean and long,
    A fish’s head, a serpent’s tongue,
    Its foot with triple claw disjoin’d,
    And what a length of tail behind!
    How slow its pace! And then its hue!
    Who ever saw so fine a blue?”

    “Hold, there!” the other quick replies;
    “'Tis green; I saw it with these eyes,
    As late with open mouth it lay,
    And warm’d it in the sunny ray.
    Stretch’d at its ease the beast I view’d,
    And saw it eat the air for food.”
    “I’ve seen it, sir, as well as you,
    And must again affirm it blue.
    At leisure I the beast survey’d
    Extended in the cooling shade.”

    “'Tis green, ’tis green, sir, I assure ye.”
    “Green!” cries the other in a fury;
    “Why, sir, d’ye think I’ve lost my eyes?”
    “’Twere no great loss,” the friend replies;
    “For if they always serve you thus,
    You’ll find them but of little use.”
    So high at last the contest rose,
    From words they almost came to blows,
    When luckily came by a third;
    To him the question they referr’d,
    And begg’d he’d tell them, if he knew,
    Whether the thing was green or blue.

    “Sirs,” cries the umpire, “cease your pother;
    The creature’s neither one nor t’other.
    I caught the animal last night,
    And view’d it o’er by candle-light.
    I mark’d it well; ’twas black as jet.
    You stare! But, sirs, I’ve got it yet,
    And can produce it.” “Pray, sir, do;
    I’ll lay my life the thing is blue.”
    “And I’ll be sworn, that when you’ve seen
    The reptile, you’ll pronounce him green.”

    “Well, then, at once to ease the doubt,”
    Replies the man, “I’ll turn him out;
    And when before your eyes I’ve set him,
    If you don’t find him black, I’ll eat him.”
    He said; and full before their sight
    Produced the beast, and lo! ’twas white.
    Both stared; the man look’d wondrous wise.
    “My children,” the Chameleon cries
    (Then first the creature found a tongue),
    “You all are right, and all are wrong.
    When next you talk of what you view,
    Think others see as well as you;
    Nor wonder if you find that none
    Prefers your eyesight to his own.”

  7. Blue

    by Annette Wynne

    When God made everything
    I'm glad he had a lot of blue-
    A great big sky for all the world
    And eyes like yours for you.

  8. Green

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Dear Nature's love color, as man's is red,—
    Flushing the bosom of her swelling plains,
    Mirrored in all her limpid flowing veins,
    And on the sweet brows of her hills outspread,—
    Your charm to all fair color charms is wed;
    Royal as purple all your oak green reigns;
    Like girlish pink and white your birch-green lanes,
    And with the sky's true blue your lawns are fed.
    How does one color body many souls!
    Young cedar green laughs happy in the sun;
    The green of elms a sage discourse outrolls;
    Of hemlock green are plots and poisons spun;
    A color drama with one actor this,
    Weaving an endless metamorphosis.

  9. Nature rarer uses yellow

    by Emily Dickinson

    Nature rarer uses yellow
    Than another hue;
    Saves she all of that for sunsets, —
    Prodigal of blue,

    Spending scarlet like a woman,
    Yellow she affords
    Only scantly and selectly,
    Like a lover's words.

  10. Symphony in Yellow

    by Oscar Wilde

    An omnibus across the bridge
    Crawls like a yellow butterfly
    And, here and there, a passer-by
    Shows like a little restless midge.

    Big barges full of yellow hay
    Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
    And, like a yellow silken scarf,
    The thick fog hangs along the quay.

    The yellow leaves begin to fade
    And flutter from the Temple elms,
    And at my feet the pale green Thames
    Lies like a rod of rippled jade.

  11. October

    by Annette Wynne

    Black and gold and red and brown,
    Olive, pink, and blue,
    What a riot of a gown—
    What a medley hue!
    What a way to go about—
    Crimson cloak and vest!
    October is a dancer
    Dancing down the West.