A Letter to Colour

A Letter to Colour

Rainbow Lorikeet

This is a true story of my disillusionment with colour. In primary school a teacher taught us about the nature of colour. I was devastated and for the first time in my life I felt depressed. This is why.

A Letter to Colour

Dear Colour,


It’s all over between us

my heart and soul aches.


You have deceived me

let me down

there’s no going back.


I’m such a fool to have been taken in by your warm rainbow embrace.


Enthralling me with strong primary colours

attention grabbing blues, reds, greens

arousing a young mind

to the joys of simplicity.


Enchanting me with subtle shades

azure, apricot

celadon, misty rose



gently caressing my soul

with elegant softness and beauty.


Beguiling me with iridescence

shimmering soap bubbles

lustrous opal, pearl

butterfly wings

beetle shells

blue of human irises.


Captivating me with clarity

of blood-red rubies

brilliant green emeralds

shimmering yellow diamonds.


But it was all just an illusion

a trick from the master magician

a cruel sleight of hand

destroying my faith in the world.


Your heart,

your essence

your being

is with another


You want

need, desire




without light you are nothing

without light you do not exist

without light you are black

the lack of all colour.


That is the betrayal.

24 thoughts on “A Letter to Colour

  1. But once your eyes adjust to the darkness there are purples and ambers and dark greens. They soothe us as we sit and wait for the light to return. I enjoyed your poem very much!

  2. This poem speaks to my heart Gabrielle, for me color has always win over form (shape etc..) and as all prima dona color knows that it has to be invisible sometimes to be more precious. Aren’t colors names as beautiful as the hue itself?
    I will print your poem and have it in my studio.

  3. Such a poignant and lovely poem. It’s quite a discovery to learn, as a child, that the whole delightful and delectable world of color does not exist on its own terms, but needs light to be perceived. And I’ve found that even after the inkiest dark, the light — and the color — comes back, and meanwhile in the dark, we may discern shapes that surprise us upon their illumination.

    1. You’ve described how I felt exactly TL and your comment made me feel better. I am experimenting tonight with seeing in the dark, but as I said to Selma, the colour does completely disappear if there is no light at all. It is just very rare to have no light in this world (moon, electric or otherwise).

  4. I felt the same when when I heard that colour is just light refraction, that the object does not hold it’s colour, colour does not have its own properties. Nice poem / letter, let us know if you get a response, but I doubt you will, colour does not have its own opinions.

  5. It’s a revelation when we understand the properties of Light isn’t it !…on SO many levels. The interplay of shadow could be compared almost to the diversity of the human condition…so complex.

  6. Even knowing the “facts” all these years into adulthood, I don’t think any of us really think of color actually disappearing in the dark. The red cabinet is still the red cabinet with the lights out, just like our hands are there though we can’t see them.

  7. It’s sad when education spoils mysteries (as it often does). Color (we spell it different from you guys) has its nether places, though. I have a painting of flowers that I used to have hanging over the bed. I knew what colors were in it since I painted it.

    But I woke one morning in dim light too scant to see the colors, and my picture was all monochrome — which was kind of fascinating. And then a little light came through the window and parts of the painting’s color — but not all of it — began to be visible. It was really amazing to see it’s colors “turn on” one by one over a few moments’ time.

    So the transition from a color-less world to a color-filled world has a magic to it, but it happens quickly. Haven’t ever happened to awaken in just this way since, but the memory of color’s awakening has stayed with me.

    Your poem is lovely.

    1. What a great story – colours turning on. Sometimes knowing too much about a thing spoils the magic. A bit like psychologists trying to analyse love (they write research papers about it). Not a good thing!

  8. Oh Gabe … so sad to be betrayed like that! For me colour and light were always the same thing … I see why you like refraction and rainbows so much now šŸ™‚

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