Thursday, December 14, 2017

roses are red

Roses are red,
that much is true,
 but violets are purple,
 not fucking blue.

They are indeed purple,
 But one thing you’ve missed:
 The concept of “purple”
 Didn’t always exist.

Some cultures lack names
 For a color, you see.
 Hence good old Homer
 And his “wine-dark sea.”

A usage so quaint,
 A phrasing so old,
 For verses of romance
 Is sheer fucking gold.

So roses are red.
 Violets once were called blue.
 I’m hugely pedantic
 But what else is new?

My friend you’re not wrong
 About Homer’s wine-ey sea!
 Colours are a matter
 Of cultural contingency;

Words are in flux
 And meanings they drift
 But the word purple
 You’ve given short shrift.

The concept of purple,
 My friends, is old
 And refers to a pigment
 once precious as gold.

By crushing up molluscs
 From the wine-dark sea
 You make a dye:
 Imperial decree

Meant that in Rome,
 to wear purpura
 was a privilege reserved
 For only the emperor!

The word ‘purple’,
 for clothes so fancy,
 Entered English
 By the ninth century

Why then are voilets
 Not purple in song?
 The dye from this mollusc,
 known for so long

Is almost magenta;
 More red than blue.
 The concept of purple
 is old, and yet new.

The dye is red,
 So this might be true:
 Roses are purple
 And violets are blue

While this song makes me merry,
 Tyrian purple dyes many a hue
 From magenta to berry
 And a true purple too.

But fun as it is to watch this poetic race
 The answer is staring you right in the face:
 Roses are red and violets are blue
 Because nothing fucking rhymes with purple.

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