Tonight, I want to celebrate the colour red. What a powerful colour it is – it always sends a strong message.
Let’s think for a moment about what it means.
Red is the colour of blood, and of fire. A white rose means purity, but a red rose means passion. Red is the colour of sunrise and sunset. It’s the colour of cherries. We all know that Snow White was given the rosy red side of the apple, while the wicked witch took the green side. Foolish girl!
Think about what a pair of red shoes means – dancing unstoppably. Or maybe a scarlet letter for a scarlet woman. Red lights mean danger.
In many Asian countries, red is the colour of celebration and brides wear red robes. And of course, red is the colour of the little red dots on Twitter and WordPress that tell you you’ve got a notification.
Yes, red certainly makes itself noticed.
Tonight, I want you to bring a little red into your poem. Maybe you’ll write about the colour itself, bring it to life with metaphor and imagery. Maybe you’ll add a little dot of it – as Turner did when he added a red buoy to a seascape- just to give extra life and excitement.
Here are some classic poems featuring red, just to start you off:
Red – Ted Hughes
Red was your colour.
If not red, then white. But red
Was what you wrapped around you.
Blood-red. Was it blood?
Was it red-ochre, for warming the dead?
Haematite to make immortal
The precious heirloom bones, the family bones.
When you had your way finally
Our room was red. A judgement chamber.
Shut casket for gems. The carpet of blood
Patterned with darkenings, congealments.
The curtains — ruby corduroy blood,
Sheer blood-falls from ceiling to floor.
The cushions the same. The same
Raw carmine along the window-seat.
A throbbing cell. Aztec altar — temple.
Only the bookshelves escaped into whiteness.
And outside the window
Poppies thin and wrinkle-frail
As the skin on blood,
Salvias, that your father named you after,
Like blood lobbing from the gash,
And roses, the heart’s last gouts,
Catastrophic, arterial, doomed.
Your velvet long full skirt, a swathe of blood,
A lavish burgundy.
Your lips a dipped, deep crimson.
You revelled in red.
I felt it raw — like crisp gauze edges
Of a stiffening wound. I could touch
The open vein in it, the crusted gleam.
Everything you painted you painted white
Then splashed it with roses, defeated it,
Leaned over it, dripping roses,
Weeping roses, and more roses,
Then sometimes, among them, a little blue
Blue was better for you. Blue was wings.
Kingfisher blue silks from San Francisco
Folded your pregnancy
In crucible caresses.
Blue was your kindly spirit — not a ghoul
But electrified, a guardian, thoughtful.
In the pit of red
You hid from the bone-clinic whiteness.
But the jewel you lost was blue.
And of course:
The Red Wheelbarrow – William Carlos Williams – 1883-1963
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
You know what to do: write a poem, link it up to our old friend Mr Linky, then take a tour of our dVerse poets, read and comment.
Please remember to put a link back to this post in your poem. That will lead your readers here, so that they can join in too. It increases everybody’s readership!