Rainbows, Reconsidered

(Click to enlarge)
The
rainbow
is itself
the gold, its arc
a wealth of color;
 no pot suffices to
 contain its shimmer of pure
promise. Slanted light, glinting drops
dare to stand as witness; life still shines
beyond the storm, to light this world’s darkness.
Comments always are welcome.
For more information on the Etheree, a syllabic poem that, in its basic form, contains ten lines and a total of fifty-five syllables, please click HERE.

98 thoughts on “Rainbows, Reconsidered

        1. How nice, that my little rainbow could light your early morning. Thank you for saying so — and for sharing your “substitute” mother and baby this morning! A peaceful weekend to you, too. ~ Linda

    1. You’ve reminded me of one of my mother’s favorite sayings, Yvonne: “The faster I go, the behinder I get.” Isn’t that just the truth?

      I’m glad you like the poem. While I was writing it, I remembered that “rainbow” in French is “arc-en-ciel” — “bow in the sky.” Such a pretty phrase!

        1. You probably know this other kind of “rainbow.” I went out last Sunday for a couple of hours to experiment with the camera. When I uploaded the images, I found one very poor photo with a very interesting detail. There are two iridescent strands, but the one in the upper left obviously is the most striking.

          I found a page on the Atmospheric Optics site that discusses the phenomenon. This made me laugh:

          “View ‘dry’ spider webs, particularly, towards the light and they can show iridescent colours. The colours often change rapidly along individual threads, an effect best seen in out-of-focus images.”

          It was a dry web, I was shooting toward the light, and I did a great job of being out-of-focus. My reward was a completely unexpected glimpse of beauty.

          1. I, too, have occasionally noticed that kind of iridescence in some of my spiderweb pictures but I never thought about the mechanism(s) causing the colors. I should have known that physicists have studied the phenomenon.

    1. Thanks, Sheryl. The evening I realized there might be a rainbow, I went running up two flights of stairs, and discovered it was perfectly positioned to photograph through the tops of some palm trees. It’s a good thing I ran, because it faded quickly.

      I’m increasingly fond of the etheree form, myself, and I’m glad you enjoy them, too.

    1. In the past, I’ve always tried to capture an entire rainbow, but it suddenly occurred to me that a portion might be equally interesting. I was happy with the colors, and I’m glad you like them.
      It’s important to remember the world’s beauty and goodness: especially when the forces arrayed against them seem so strong.

    1. The light shines in so many ways: rainbows, backlit grasses, luminous patches on the water. Each is a beautiful answer to darkness, and you capture each so well in your painting.

    1. I’m glad you caught that, Kayti. I was so surprised when the thought came to me. The idea of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is fine, but we get so busy looking for the pot, we miss the gold.

      I found this great photo from Orange County that “proves” there’s no gold at the end of the rainbow. If the rainbow is itself the gold, there’s no need for disappointment!

    1. And, if we’re not in the right place at the right time, sometimes we can make a run for a better vantage point, as I did with this one. With the storm moving to the east and the sun nearing the horizon in the west, I thought, “There could be a rainbow.” There was, and it was beautiful.

    1. They exist, indeed — and we need them. There’s a reason we love flowers in winter, or a candle on a dark night. The soft glow of a Kindle or iGadget just doesn’t compare.

    1. This one was interesting to write, Maria. Keeping the rhythm that was set in the first five lines was hard, and I wasn’t sure it could be made to fit the etheree form. Not only that, those first lines sounded so much like Emily Dickson, I couldn’t get her poems out of my mind. But, eventually it worked.

      I’m glad you like it.

    1. I had some standard rainbow-over-house photos, WOL, but I decided something more abstract would be better, precisely because of the different view I took of the rainbow itself. I’m glad you like it.

  1. We are totally on the same page..looking for a little hope in the face of recent events. Been memorizing a verse of scripture from the Amplified version of the bible…John 16:33, it has made a huge difference in my perspective . what’s the name of this style of poetry again? I like it. DM

    1. It’s called an Etheree, DM. There’s a link to a page that tells more about it at the bottom of the post. When I first tried it, I became intrigued with the challenge of doing more than meeting the requirements of the syllable count; I like the form, too.

      Sometimes, we find ourselves looking for hope. Other times, all we need do is “give an account for the hope that is in [us].”

      1. Thanks, Linda. Yes, I have posted this wonderful consoling poem on my own blog – I’m now going to add it as a comment to my latest 12th House post, with credit to your good self of course. As you say, we need to take comfort where it is offered, and Nature is the great wellspring from which so many great poets and writers have drawn just that comfort for our solace. Thank you.

        1. It’s Berry who deserves the credit. Along with Mary Oliver, Eavan Boland, and Pattiann Rogers, he’s one who’s able to combine love of nature with knowledge of its workings. Dillard says “the lover can see, and the knowledgeble,” and the best certainly prove her point.

    1. Funny you should say that. I’m sitting here debating my next post, and one of the pair under consideration has to do with the relationship between journey and destination. I may post it after my Thanksgiving week travel. We’ll see.

      But: yes. It is the journey that matters. As I’ve learned a time or two, even when you think you know where you’re going, the destination may have changed beyond all recognition by the time you get there. Better to travel easily, and accept what comes.

      1. My most effective ‘journey’ lessons have come through physical pursuits where sustained bouts of training are essential but don’t always ensure the intended outcome. I’ve learned to appreciate the rewards of training because they last far beyond the success or defeat of a specific goal or competition.

        That has helped me appreciate ‘moments’ in all aspects of life. I will be interested to read your ‘bubbling’ essay on your thoughts.

        1. I had to laugh at your mention of sustained bouts of training that don’t always ensure the intended outcome. We’ve all seen examples of that, even if we haven’t experienced them ourselves. But you’re right that any regime, physical or not, has real value: often in unexpected ways.

  2. Stunning etheree, Linda! There’s something just so hopeful about rainbows. I love their colors, of course, but the meaning behind them is what’s inspiring. Beautiful photo as well. Thanks very much for a day brightener!!

    1. One of the things that still amazes me is how many sorts of rainbows there are. This page shows them in an easy to understand way. Even the dark band between double rainbows has a name: Alexander’s Dark Band. It’s named for Alexander of Aphrodisias, who first described the effect in 200 AD!

      The story of Noah was one of my favorites when I was young. It’s just as good now — I’m sure his day was brightened when he saw that bow in the clouds.

    1. I know. “The rainbow is itself the gold” came to me as a single thought while I was looking at the photo, and the rhythm seemed to want to take over. It also reminded me of Emily Dickinson, and lines such as “Because I could not stop for death…” I’ve got another version in draft — quatrains — and decided to use the exercise to learn a little about meter and rhyme schemes. I figure I ought to know what I’m producing.

      You may have noticed that I fudged on the etheree. The last line fits the scheme, as long as “world” gets the same treatment as the bumpersticker that proclaims support for “whirled peas.”

        1. Some people certainly do. I grew up pronouncing “world” with two syllables, and always have thought of it in that way — much like “herald,” despite the absence of that second vowel. I dipped into some of the online discussions, and was quite surprised to see so many people affirming “world” as a one-syllable word. “Hour” and “fire” are other words that were designated monosyllabic, and yet, in my world, “hour” rhymes with “power,” and “fire” with “liar.”

          Well, at least I can quit worrying about that “extra” syllable I thought I’d put in the poem. (And who knew there were triphthongs, or that there actually are people who think “squirrel” is monosyllabic? So interesting.)

          1. From your comment I figured you’re one of those two-syllable world people. You’re closer to the etymological pronunciation, because what now seems a single word started out as the compound weororld. The first part meant ‘man’ in a generic sense (compare the first part of werewolf) and the second meant ‘old’ in the sense of ‘age,’ so the world was conceived as the ‘age of mankind.’

            I grew up, like you, with hour and fire having two syllables, and I still pronounce them that way. It’s the pesky r that breaks a monosyllable into two syllables.

    1. I thought of your sons recently. I was crossing the Kemah-Seabrook bridge, and as I looked out toward the ship channel, just a fragment of a rainbow came down to the horizon, right on top of a tanker. Oh, how I wished I could have had a photo of that! But it only lasted a few seconds — partly because I was moving, I’m sure.

      Still, every rainbow, whether perfectly formed or only a fragment, carries the same promise. Maybe you need a rainbow-colored propeller! (I know. It’s a pinwheel, but it was the best I could do.)

      1. My oldest son is a fabulous iPhone photographer, and he may very well have taken a photo like this. I wish he had a web page so everyone could see his photos — how he takes his industrial view at work and makes that view beautiful. Maybe I’ll send you a recent sample so you can see what I mean. Thanks for sharing!

        1. If you get a chance, I’d love to see a photo or two. If he posted to Flickr, all his friends and family — and a few complete strangers — could see the world through his eyes. You probably know this, but you can follow people on Flickr, and get updates when they’ve posted something new. It’s easy as can be, and wouldn’t require much effort on his part.

          1. I’m sure he’s aware of photo share sites, just chooses not to I reckon. I emailed you a link to a Dropbox folder of 30 of his photos. I think you will recognize some of the photos taken from his tug boat in TX.

    1. Yes, ma’am, it is my photo. And I’m glad you like the first line(s). Someone else may have come to the same conclusion, but I couldn’t find it with a cursory search. Perhaps I’ve had an original thought!

  3. I keep going back and forth…image to poem to image to poem. They go so well together. How many people would think to look at a rainbow from behind arching grasses?
    It’s nice to think of the light that returns after a storm.

    1. I fooled you, Steve — at least, a little. Those aren’t grasses. They’re the very top fronds of a palm tree growing next to my building. When I saw the rainbow, I went running up to the top floor, where there’s an open passageway overlooking the neighborhood. I discovered I could line up the tree and the rainbow.

      In a way, it’s my version of your ladder. I’ll never tease you about that, again!

        1. Bee, when I saw your comment, I suddenly wondered: is it possible that palms are grasses? I have no idea where that thought came from, but look what I found:

          “The grass family includes approximately 10,000 species classified into 600 to 700 genera (Clayton and Renvoize, 1986; Watson and Dallwitz, 1999). The grasses are included with lilies, orchids, pineapples, and palms in the group known as the monocotyledons, which includes all flowering plants with a single seed leaf.”

          In the comments appended to a “Scientific American” article, I found this:

          “”Trees” don’t make up a monophyletic evolutionary group, nor is “tree” a scientifically rigorous technical term. Conifers are mostly considered trees, and besides them countless plants clearly considered trees are angiosperms. Just within the angiosperm family some trees are monocots, some are dicots, either subgroup more closely related to the other than either are to conifers.

          And yes, some plants considered trees, like palm trees, and occasionally bamboo, are grasses. Tree is just a word for a largish plant with a generally tall, often woody trunk.”

          So there! Another assumption bites the dust. “Palm tree” may be a term of convenience, but strictly speaking, I did take the rainbow photo through grass.

    2. At least scientifically, you were right, Steve. I learned just tonight that palms are classified as grasses. So, yes: I took the photo of the rainbow from behind a palm, but “arching grasses” would do for a description, too. There’s more detail in my response to Bee, just above. I’ll probably keep right on talking about palm trees, but it’s good to know where they fit in the larger scheme of things.

  4. I guess rainbows are always a bit symbolic of hope against the darkness of a storm!! I never get tired of looking at them. For a long time I thought rainbows were as fragile as a dream trace. But, in actuality as long as the sun is behind you and the moisture laded clouds are in front of you, a rainbow can last a long time. I remember taking pictures of a rainbow all along a beach driving along in the car…each stop and it was still there.

    I thought your fronds were blades of tall grasses too!! Interesting how perception changes depending on what you choose to include in the viewfinder!!

    I love the ethereee and am always amazed how you are able to not just fit the format of the poetry style, but do it meaningfully. You make them soulful and not just a syllable scheme. That is the artist in you!!

    1. I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely, Judy. I’ve been away for a few days, and it was refreshing to get through the holiday without hearing one word about football, black Friday, political campaigns, and so on.

      No rainbows for my friend and me, though. It was dreary most of the time, with no storms but plenty of drizzle. I would have enjoyed enough sunshine to make a rainbow. I love your tale of chasing that rainbow down the beach. It sounds like what the airplane pilots talk about — flying into the glory.

      You’ll be interested in the tidbit I learned just tonight, and shared up above with BeeHappee. Scientifically speaking, palms are grasses — so, in a sense, I did take the photo through grass. I swear — just when I least expect it, here comes another bit of knowledge to be taken account of.

      Learning to move beyond that syllable count is so important — and it can take effort: at least for me. But I do enjoy it, and find it strangely fulfilling when something “works.” I suppose that’s the same for you, with your photography. We put up with the gloom for the sake of the rainbows, no?

  5. I really liked this poem, and it fit my mood exactly at the time I read it. I keep trying to catch up with reading all the comments here, but that is just not happening.
    I’ve had a draft post about rainbows sitting in my WP since summer. It was really interesting to do some research on mythology about rainbows, and different beliefs associated with them. One day, I hope some rainbow inspires me to finish it up.
    No idea how you captured that image, but really cool!

    1. Rainbows are interesting. What amazes me isn’t just the mythology surrounding them, but the way atmospheric scientists categorize, name, and describe them. We think of the bow in the clouds, but there are so many other sorts of rainbows — and other “shimmery things” up there that aren’t rainbows at all, but are just as beautiful. The site that started educating me is called Atmospheric Optics. If you don’t know it, it’s a wonderful resource: as understandable as it is exhaustive in its discussions.

      The process of finishing something that has been started fascinates me. There are things that have been sitting in my draft files for years, and now and then, once of them seems to stretch and stir, like someone waking from a nap. Maybe your rainbow will stir one of these days.

    1. If I’ve given you a smile, I’ll smile, too. I’m glad you like it, Jeanie. Maybe you need a rainbow tree to add to your Christmas decorations — surely there’s room for one somewhere!

  6. I love the form of etheree, coming out as a shape of a pyramid. And I love your poem in this form. Rainbows hold so many dreams, promises and hopes – in so many different cultures. The photo is beautiful and fits perfectly for your poem.

    1. Thank you, Otto. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and your comment about rainbows being the repository of dreams, promises, and hopes, is exactly right. When I first visited Kauai, there wasn’t a day without mulitple rainbows, and the tales that went along with them were marvelous. Interestingly, there also was a tradition of using rainbows for navigation. That seems a little iffy to me, but perhaps where they’re so frequent, it makes sense.

  7. “The rainbow is itself the gold.” How good to be reminded to attend to the thing before us, and lay aside if even for a very little while, our propensity to use everything as a means. Lovely photo too.

    1. That’s it, exactly. Enough of using rainbows only as road maps to the gold. It’s so human to look at everything before us and think, “What can I do with this?” Sometimes, the rainbow wants to do something with us…

  8. I like your reconsideration and your rather unorthodox decision to focus on the (cattail?) reeds in the foreground rather than on the rainbow itself. A worthy shift in creative contemplation. -Gary

    1. Actually, Gary, the plant life you see is the very top of a palm tree. The photo was taken from the top floor of my apartment building, where an open passageway provided the view.
      As a very new photographer with a very new Canon and a basic 24-135mm lens, I knew I couldn’t capture the entire, quite beautiful bow. So, I looked around to see what I could do.

      I’m glad you liked the result, and I’m glad you stopped by.

            1. It could be an indication of a problem, but it could also be a blessing. I can think of a number of people (and animal friends) I’d love to see again, under any circumstances. And if only in spirit form, so be it.

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