Saturday, March 16, 2013

Prompt #141 – Color Your Poem

With St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, and everyone thinking green, I thought it might be interesting to think about various colors as the inspiration for this week’s prompt.

I didn’t realize, until I did some research for this post, that there’s a “psychology of colors.”  Without getting into color psychology too deeply, it’s generally understood that  colors can trigger psychological and emotional responses. Colors have prescribed “meanings.” Here are some that I found online:

Red—symbolizes excitement, energy, passion, love, desire, speed, strength, power, heat, aggression, danger, fire, blood, war, violence, all things intense and passionate.
Pink—symbolizes love and romance, caring, tenderness, acceptance and calm.
Beige and ivory—symbolize unification. Ivory symbolizes quiet and pleasantness. Beige symbolizes calm and simplicity.
Yellow—signifies joy, happiness, betrayal, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, gold, philosophy, dishonesty, cowardice, jealousy, covetousness, deceit, illness, hazard and friendship.
Blue— symbolizes peace, tranquility, cold, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, loyalty, sky, water, technology, depression, appetite suppressant.
Turquoise—symbolizes calm. Teal symbolizes sophistication. Aquamarine symbolizes water. Lighter turquoise has a feminine appeal.
Purple—symbolizes royalty, nobility, spirituality, ceremony, mysterious, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, cruelty, arrogance, mourning.
Lavender—symbolizes femininity, grace and elegance.
Orange–symbolizes energy, balance, enthusiasm, warmth, vibrant, expansive, flamboyant, demanding of attention.
Green—symbolizes nature, environment, healthy, good luck, renewal, youth, spring, generosity, fertility, jealousy, inexperience, envy, misfortune, vigor.
Brown—symbolizes earth, stability, hearth, home, outdoors, reliability, comfort, endurance, simplicity, and comfort.
Gray—symbolizes security, reliability, intelligence, staid, modesty, dignity, maturity, solid, conservative, practical, old age, sadness, boring. Silver symbolizes calm.
White—symbolizes reverence, purity, birth, simplicity, cleanliness, peace, humility, precision, innocence, youth, winter, snow, good, sterility, marriage (Western cultures), death (Eastern cultures), cold, clinical.
Black— symbolizes power, sexuality, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, fear, evil, unhappiness, depth, style, evil, sadness, remorse, anger, anonymity, underground, good technical color, mourning, death (Western cultures).

This week, choose a color and write a poem in which that color plays a role. In other words, don’t write about the color itself but, rather, use the color to help you develop a theme, mood, or narrative.

Things to Think About:

1. What mood does the color you chose suggest?
2. What emotions or feelings do you want your color to trigger?
3. What things in the natural world (or natural occurrences) do you associate with particular colors (i.e., a peaceful spring day, an autumn afternoon, winter, summer heat, a hurricane, a windy day or night)?
4. What colors do you associate with foods?
5. What colors do you connect to particular times in your life?
6. How do certain colors affect your moods?
7. Color harmony is a dynamic equilibrium—what color or colors do you associate with harmony in your life?
8. Does a particular hair color trigger a memory for you (your own hair color, coloring your hair, another person’s hair color—this one has potential for a humorous slant)?
9. Has the color of a room remained in your memory for any particular reason?
10.  What’s your favorite color to wear, paint your walls, choose for your car or the exterior of your home?


1. Be creative with this! Remember, don’t just write about a color! Include your chosen color in your poem in a unique way.

2. IMPORTANT: this week focus on adjectives and limited use of them. Adjectives can be your poem’s biggest enemy! Here’s what some great authors have written about adjectives:

  • “When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when close together. They give strength when they are wide apart.” (Mark Twain)

  • Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something.” (Ezra Pound)

  • “The adjective has not been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place.” (E. B. White)

  • “Most adjectives are also unnecessary. Like adverbs, they are sprinkled into sentences by writers who don’t stop to think that the concept is already in the noun.” (William Zissner)



  1. Brilliant, Adele! I knew some colors had attached meanings, and you've given us a comprehensive list. Thank you!

    Happy St. Patrick's day to you! I know you'll be wearing green!

  2. Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)March 18, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Happy St. Patrick's Day, Adele (a day belated)! A lovely prompt!

    Will you do your poem-a-day prompt again this April? That's always such fun.

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

    1. Thanks so much, Maire!

      I've heard that St. Patrick's Day in Ireland is much less a secular holiday than it is a religious one. Hope you had a blessed and happy day!

    2. Oops, Maire—I didn't reply to your question abut the April poem-a-day prompts. Yes, I've got the whole month all ready to go and will post it on March 30th! I hope you'll "tune in."

  3. Great prompt and example poems, especially the well-known "Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams.

    1. Thanks, Bob! So glad you like the examples. "Red Wheelbarrow" is one of my favorites and proves that poems don't have to be long to be effective.

  4. a white wind whistling
    through gray cracks in all the walls
    spring is on the way

    1. Wonderful, Risa! Thanks so much for sharing!

      Your white wind through gray cracks, and spring on its way so perfectly describe the weather here and might also symbolize a particular state of mind.