Unreal Nature

June 10, 2017

Purple Shadows

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:50 am

… Purple is frailty and force, both.

This is from The Secondary Colors: Three Essays by Alexander Theroux (1996):

… It is an elite, at time histrionically pious, severe color, a hue, like blue, that, absorbing light, is passive, retreating, and cold.

… As black gospel singers might put it, purple has a lot of “church” in it.

… Gerard Manley Hopkins in his poem, “Henry Purcell” describes a beach this way: “The thunder-purple seabeach plumed purple-of-thunder.” And in his incomparable “The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe,” he calls upon Mary to be “his atmosphere,” assuring us of the beauty and holiness of the air and the sky, and indicates power in the richness of a purple sky: “Yet such a sapphire-shot / charged, steeped sky will not / stain light.” Purple rain, according to Edith Sitwell, is a reality: “The mauve summer rain / Is falling again — / It soaks through the eaves / And the ladies sleeves.”

… The tiny fingernails on starving black children and babies, ironically, turn a weirdly beautiful yet ghastly purple. Purple shadows or pouchy rings under the eyes often prove in older people that circulation is sluggish, usually from fatigue or convalescence, and it is common in those who have had malaria.

… “I tremble with pleasure when I think that on the very day of my leaving prison both the laburnum and the lilac will be blooming in the gardens,” writes Oscar Wilde, “and that I shall see the wind stir into restless beauty the swaying gold of the one, and make the other toss the pale purple of its plumes, so that all the air shall be Arabia for me.”

… Purple is frailty and force, both. Neither should come as a surprise.

My previous post from Theroux’s book is here.

-Julie

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