An opiate vista

An opiate vista

A curious vista of ‘tallow-coloured’ images floating before an opium-steeped lord. ‘Laudanum’ was the name for various opium-based preparations and now refers to an alcoholic tincture of the same drug.  ‘Chloral’, of apparently...
Cobalt polar lapis blue

Cobalt polar lapis blue

A dazzlingly variegated Greek sky. It was under such a sky, which for me also includes hyacinth blue and lilac, that I realised the Greek national flag is simply the pairing of the deep inviting blue of its sky and the blinding whiteness of its church walls in the...
Of violet eyes

Of violet eyes

Only the second example I have come across of violet eyes, never yet seen in real life. Here the 76th Earl of Gormenghast learns from his physician, Dr. Prunesquallor, that the newborn 77th Earl-to-be, Titus, has this glorious oddity. The other, also of aristocratic...
Crab-green water

Crab-green water

I think I can imagine the shade of ‘crab-green’, a deep dark place where this wily old conger eel escapes its enemy the seal.  Jarrk himself is so strong that he has no enemies, allowing him, in Williamson’s take, to be gentle. Except where it comes...
Purple-grey sea

Purple-grey sea

Storminess at sea, as in the sky, can be purple-inked. ‘Beyond the ragged horizon of the purple-grey sea…’   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F. Tunnicliffe (Harmondsworth:...
Scent as colour

Scent as colour

I like metaphors that use one of our five senses to convey another – here a visual image serves as a metaphor for a scent. And I must still be a child as vivid colours catch my attention more than ever. ‘The scents of the ducks were thick and luring as...
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:...
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...

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