Why I Am Not a Painter

It is almost mid-April! The feeling is green. But raining. The seeing is grey.

I know those shoots near the street will be lilac bushes if they’re not mown down,

and in a few years, will have ______-colored flowers (fill in the color here???

false blue, white, purple, red of the lilacs in your memory). Yes, lilac has become a color, but which?

Mine are white. Mine are not lavender (and the real lavender, later this summer,

will be much darker than lavender, will be purple).

But for now the green world is grey. Green is galvanizing. Grey is paralyzing.

What color would it be to you??? the photo of this morning?

Or is green, like golden, more of a surface color? Green simply a color effect,

like the golden light in some old photographs from the 1970s.

Greening, greenly, in the green.

What color does the baby see the grass as before we say green?

Shelley says in his Defense of Poetry:

“The most glorious poetry that has ever been communicated to the world

is probably a feeble shadow of the original conceptions of the poet.”

And here is the same problem with colors. In Remarks on Colour, Wittgenstein states (laments?),

“I can perhaps say ???There I see a reddish place’ and yet I can’t mix a colour that I recognize as being exactly the same.”


Worse than a feeble shadow, a poem could be a complete misunderstanding.

Because we see colors with words, not with eyes.

Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.
With the shade around her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
Green, how I want you green.
Under the gypsy moon,
all things are watching her
and she cannot see them. ("Romance Sonambulo") 
Green is a braying. Grey is a keening. I have always loved how I completely don't understand this poem. 
Or there is this: "An imagined garden grey with sundered boughs"
(writes Hart Crane) A garden grey? Yes, that's a greying green.  
Yes, that it easy to see: eucalyptus leaves; flowers on a trash heap. 
Color is representative of the distance I feel today 
from the lilies of the valley in May, the peonies in June. 
And the green mind of August--whatever that is--later on. 

"There was the cat slopping its milk all day,/ Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk / And August the most peaceful month." ("A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts")