Purple-streaked stems

Purple-streaked stems

I never knew that hemlock grew alongside English fields, Of purple hue, it poisons you, and life to death it yields.   ‘He ran with them to where, amidst the purple-streaked stems of hemlock, the old man was standing on the shillets.’   Source: Henry...
Of kingfisher colours

Of kingfisher colours

This description of a Halcyon Kingfisher packs a rainbow of colour metaphors, from pink to green to blue and brown.  Elsewhere the book describes hunted kingfishers strung up sans wings, their exquisite feathers being used for female fashion plumage. And that lovely...
Ribbon when the colour’s gone

Ribbon when the colour’s gone

Mrs Poyner offering up her pithy view of many wives in the neighbourhood, during a good-natured discussion with her husband.  He settles their difference of opinion by assuring her he married well. ‘The poor draggle-tails o’ wives you see, like bits o’ gauze...
Petunia-coloured horn

Petunia-coloured horn

I liked this description of an old-fashioned gramophone loud speaker, which I associate with the image of a Jack Russell sitting next to, listening to ‘His Master’s Voice’.  However, since petunias come in a rainbow of colours, I am wondering what...
Many-coloured shield

Many-coloured shield

A rich description of 17th century London, this appears to refer to Westminster Abbey, with lights brightly burning inside. ‘Now the Abbey windows were lit up and burnt like a heavenly, many-coloured shield (in Orlando’s fancy).’ Source: Virginia...
Eyes like …

Eyes like …

I have never seen violet eyes, though I have a recollection of someone describing Elizabeth Taylor’s as being of this colour.  But ‘drenched violets’, how enchanting those must be! See also Woolf’s description of Orlando’s lover’s...
An ocean of colours

An ocean of colours

Not a sight you’d expect to see on the steppes: a tulip-filled expanse.  Never would I have associated this beautiful but relatively domesticated flower with a wild place of spontaneous blooming. ‘And the steppe has its own riches.  In spring the young...
The taste of colour

The taste of colour

This is one of two metaphors I found in Hoban’s book which mix two senses.  Here visual overload leaves a sugary taste in the eye, while elsewhere he refers to sounds like the smell of old cooking. ‘Too much colour, leaving a taste of marzipan in the...
Silver-plated water

Silver-plated water

I have seen beaten-bronze and copper-coloured water, but never silver-plated. ‘The cool, placid, silver-plated water at even coolly awaits the frost.’ 16 Oct 1859 Source: Henry David Thoreau, The Journal 1837-1861, Damion Searls (ed.), preface by John R....

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