Art by Arthur Rackham
The rainbow inspires metaphor and simile.
Virginia Woolf in To the Lighthouse highlights the
transience of life and Man's mortality through
Mrs Ramsey's thought,
- "it was all as ephemeral as a rainbow"
Wordsworth's 1802 poem "My Heart Leaps Up" begins:
- My heart leaps up when I behold
- A rainbow in the sky:
- So was it when my life began;
- So is it now I am a man;
- So be it when I shall grow old,
- Or let me die!...
The Newtonian deconstruction of the rainbow
is said to have provoked John Keats to lament
in his 1820 poem "Lamia":
- Do not all charms fly
- At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
- There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
- We know her woof, her texture; she is given
- In the dull catalogue of common things.
- Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
- Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
- Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine –
- Unweave a rainbow