Fragmentary Blue. Miscellaneous Poems. 1920

Why make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?
Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)–
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high,
It only gives our wish for blue a whet.

RF wonders what is it that attracts us to the color blue which we spot now and then – in a bird, a butterfly, a flower, a precious stone or an eye, when we have an infinite blue sky above us?  He feels that this is because the sky is unreachable. Because we cannot have the sky we desire things that are the color of the sky around us.

At a more philosophical level, we fulfill our longing for the Heavens above – for peace, spirituality, for the unattainable through things that are within our reach. We seek things on earth that we associate with heavens above. Notice that the spiritual things he talks about are not temples, churches, or mountain peaks but the beauty of our commonplace things – a bird’s or butterfly’s blue wing, a blue flower, a blue precious stone, blue eyes.

Almost as an aside he says that earth is earth and not heaven yet. He is clearly differentiating the two on a philosophical, spiritual level. But he adds that some scholars may say that the sky is part of the earth (it is earth’s atmosphere). This is purely a scientific view. So, as always, RF considers all points of view. He dabbles in spirituality, science and flights of imagination and finds his carefully balanced answers.

As in the poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay, in this poem too, RF is talking of the ‘unattainable’. Man’s predicament is that he desires to possess that, which is unattainable and at the same time also knows the futility of such desires. The most valuable things in life are not for possessing but to lead us towards spiritual upliftment.

Color connotation

Blue is the color of calmness, security, of ‘dreamlike yearnings’, of distance, therefore ‘divinity’ ‘spirituality’.  It is also the symbol of fidelity, faithfulness. Blue is the color of sky and water. The blue of water (the color of depth) impersonates the female principle and that of the skies the male principle.

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