The Colour of Time

Dark hair, yours, and bountiful, you’d say
when you ran your fingers through it in the Spring,
when those budding days were ours,
and time stretched out in front of us
in fields and folds and far-off, fair green continents
to be embraced. To be embraced … and we embraced it carelessly.
Then Spring was gone, and Summer came,
and as that long, long summertime drew on
you joked that at my temples was a lighter shade.
Yes, it was in those drawn-out, close-of-Summer days,
when we would laugh not quite so much,
and things – who knows quite why – had taken on a different face;
it seemed we grew apart a little, then.
There followed bleak, uncertain times; pallid sunlight seeking ways
through greying skies. I regret that most of all –
when even failing Autumn took its toll.
And by and by, oh by and by, before we knew, both you and I
were white as snow, except that there,
within your locks, ran fine, lost strands of pure gold.

So much had passed.

Some fear the clasp of Winter. Well, I smile,
and do not give a thought to seasons nor their hues,
but thank the Lord that still
your soft voice whispers in my ear.

From ‘Of Goddesses and Women’


Note: Modelled on and expanded from an elegy In Book VII of the Manyõshu, the ‘Collection of a Myriad Leaves’ , the oldest extant collection of Classical Japanese poetry. All poems in Book VII are anonymous, and date from the latter part of the 7th and early 8th centuries AD. They are characterised by a simplicity and sincerity of thought and feeling.

6 thoughts on “The Colour of Time

    1. Diolch am yr ateb, Gill. When I wrote this, I’d forgotten where I’d seen the poem which contained the idea for ‘The Colour of Time’ – whether it was a Chinese or Japanese poem. But the feeling remained with me, and I went ahead with my own version. A long time later, while looking for another poem, I came across it again in the Manõyoshu. The original, I was surprised to see, was much shorter than I’d remembered.

      Liked by 1 person

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