About the poet
Dannie Abse (1923-2014) was a poet, playwright and novelist whose literary career spanned half a...
Pathology of colours
I know the colour rose, and it is lovely,
but not when it ripens in a tumour;
and healing greens, leaves and grass, so springlike,
in limbs that fester are not springlike.
I have seen red-blue tinged with hirsute mauve
in the plum-skin face of a suicide.
I have seen white, china white almost, stare
from behaind the smashed windscreen of a car.
And the criminal, multi-coloured flash
of an H-bomb is no more beautiful
than an autopsy when the belly's opened -
to show cathedral windows never opened.
So in the simple blessing of a rainbow,
in the bevelled edge of a sunlit mirror,
I have seen, visible, Death's artifact
like a soldier's ribbon on a tunic tacked.
from New and Collected Poems (Hutchinson, 2003), copyright © Dannie Abse 2003, used by permission of the author
Dannie Abse Reading from his Poems