Friday, July 15, 2016

What Are Colors Like?

I recently read this article in the Spring 2016 issue of DIALOGUE MAGAZINE. It is beautifully done. The vivid splash and dance of words remind me why I want to be a writer. Used by permission.

What Are Colors Like?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reprinted from the Winter 1965 issue of DIALOGUE (originally published in the Peoria, Illinois, JOURNAL STAR, issue of August 5, 1965).

EDITOR’S NOTE BY DON O. NOLD: A columnist who calls himself “Andy” received this question from Fred Oliver, a blind student of Lansing, Michigan. The answer he gives is poetry in prose form and could become a classic of descriptive writing.


There is more to colors than meets the eye. They often prod the feelings we get from scents and sounds, from touch and even taste. They trigger moods that stay with us long after they are faded and gone.

The biggest color is blue, the high sky serene above the storms and the wide ocean deep below the waves. Its courtesy has no limits, and its glorious harmony is an anthem of murmuring rivers, of choirs and pealing organs. It recalls the freshness of May and the bland touch of well water.

Green is a fair lady, fragrant and soft-spoken. There is a separate green for every tree and more to carpet the fields in checkerboard squares—all perfumed with pines and parsley, sages and mint. Green recalls a lilting lullaby, a leafy rustle of whispering breezes.

Brown is low and rough like the ground and sturdy tree trunks. It has the furry touch of guide dogs and bears, bags of cloves and spicy cinnamon, comforting coffee and chocolate. It buzzes with the bees, hums with throaty drums and keeps toe-tapping with thumping puppy tails.

Red is fierce as a flame and fast as a beating heart. It is a loud laugh and a wild dance, always bold and on parade. It is the stabbing color of wounds and warfare. And sometimes, it dons a festive mood of flags and Christmas berries and offers a bowl of smooth, round apples.

Deep, heavy gray roars with the thunder. It has the touch of steely metals, the power of ships and bridges. Light gray is a dreamy mood of swirling smoke. It tiptoes away a misty morning and returns like a weary echo, bringing a whiff of lavender and a surprising touch of dew drops.

Yellow whistles a high, shrill tune with the happy birds. It nods to the warm sunbeams and dances with the wind-blown flowers, cheek to cheek. It teases and tempts with mustard and melons.

Orange has a merry mind of its own. It is a playful Halloween prankster that ho-ho-hos like a tuba and rolls downhill like a pumpkin.

Pink has a shy smile and trills a soft love song. It has the satiny grace of seashells and comes with frothy frills, with bows and birthday cakes.

White stands out crisp and clean, proud and straight as a cane. It recalls starched aprons and new bread, smooth marble, and the tingling touch of snowflakes.

Black has nothing to say. It hikes the velvety mysteries of midnight and the silent secrets of empty boxes.

Each color is a ladder of graded shades. Its dark, heavy tones step up to paler tones, lightly rinsed in watery washes. The colors and all their tones are in the rainbow. This symphony of distant music spans the sky in an immense half-hoop of banded ribbons. And no human eye is sharp enough to see or count all its colors.

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