Hunting rainbows


The clouds have rolled in. Warning drops in the air.
I’m miles from home, on a hilltop somewhere.
But I’m not heading in. No: it’s time to prepare
For a new task. I’ll go hunting rainbows.

Seems the weather divinities aren’t going to let
This chance to half-drown me escape them. They’ve set
Their rain-dog pack on me. Don’t mind getting wet:
It’s a small price to pay, hunting rainbows.

Though it may only last for a scant quarter-hour
There’s a magical side to this sharp April shower –
Over sunlight it has a miraculous power.
Now’s my moment to start hunting rainbows.

The clouds crack. The sun splits a curtain of rain.
I look to the eastern sky. There, once again,
Old Richard of York’s giving battle in vain:
But I’ve carried the day, hunting rainbows.

And forget the tall tales our grandmothers told
About finding the end and that big crock of gold:
There’s a treasure right here we can have and behold
Any time we go out hunting rainbows.


Got caught in the rain on the bike yesterday. This happens a lot, but under the right conditions it’s not without its upside. You just have to know where to look for it.

My phone camera wasn’t man enough to get a decent picture, so the image is an arc-en-ciel that appeared over the sea in Brittany a couple of summers back. N.

13 thoughts on “Hunting rainbows

  1. Hi Nick, it makes so much more (moore) sense to hunt for rainbows than tornado’s 🙂 This is such a fun poem!

    I have never been able to make a good pic of a rainbow, this one is stunning.
    (When our nations best writer Harry Mulish was taken to his burial by boat over the canals of Amsterdam, a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky. )

    aaaB cccB dddb etc. Love it 🙂


    • Oh, I’d LOVE to go chasing tornadoes…not very common in these parts, though (luckily!)

      I must confess I’d never heard of Harry Mulisch, but having Googled him, I think a rainbow over Amsterdam was fine and fitting tribute to a great man. And I can’t take any credit for the pic: my wife is the one with the photographer’s eye!

      I came back from my ride yesterday with TWO poems (a record, I think!) – both based on tercets, for some reason. I’ll post the other one (which is ‘pure’ tercets, aaa bbb ccc) later. The best-known example of the form is probably ‘The Eagle’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson: very simple, but so vivid.

      As always. N.xx

    • I think ‘The Eagle’ was the first poem I ever learned by heart. It’s hard to believe that something so short and (deceptively) simple came form the same pen as epics like ‘Ulysses’, ‘The Lady of Shalott’ and, of course, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’.

  2. The poem is fabulous! As is the rainbow irrespective of where it is!

    And who needs a crock of gold anyway? – I am saying this on a good day!!LOL:)

    “The sun splits a curtain of rain” – a line to be devoured with cream on it!:)

    Christine xx

    • Thank you, Christine – there’s a little poem right there in the thought of ‘a line to be devoured with cream’. Your starter for ten…

      And while a crock of gold wouldn’t solve everything, I don’t suppose I’d just leave it there if I happened to find it…here’s hoping. N.xx

  3. Nick, this reminds me of a time when I was in New Zealand traveling with Mana Forbes to different Maori communities. We were going through the mountains. The rain was as soft and gray as early morning mist, and suddenly we turned a corner and saw a small pine tree not eight or nine feet from the road shining with rainbow colors, the rainbow rising out of it to arc in the sky. Mana, always a man of deep spiritual singing in his spirit, stopped the van, and we piled out to see if the rainbow would disappear. The miracle was that it did not–at least at first. As Mana started singing, I stepped toward the small pine, however, and I could not longer see the rainbow rising out of the tree, although the tree still held the colors and light. Another step forward, and I and Mana were standing in soft rain beside a forest surrounding a road that was winding up a mountainside along the falling of green grass and trees into a small canyon. That’s not my only hunting rainbow story, Nick, but it’s the one I remember the most intensely, and your poem, as your poetry so often does, brought it back to me. It even brought back to me the power of Mana’s Maori face and his huge smile and the deepness of his spirit when he talked to his ancestors.
    I think that’s one of the reasons I like so much of what you write. It is not fire and brimstone burning down the side of the mountain in the dark, sending bubbles of fire in the sky, but touches in a fundamental way the everydayness of who we are in life. A bike ride in the rain, the look of an old tractor furrowing dark, rich soil, the look of trees on a spring day, the play between a Red kite and your daughter’s kite as you think about your daughter’s slow, inevitable march toward adulthood. These are the stuff of which good souls are made, and your poetry is infused, over and over again, with it. When you read your poetry it lifts you up into yourself while, at the same time, experiencing the poet’s experience as a human being, a father, a husband, and a man. What more can a reader ask?

    • I’m going to print out the last paragraph of this comment, Tom, and keep it to look at whenever I doubt myself and my work. What a wonderful affirmation – I honestly never thought I would read something like this about my writing. You have no idea how much this means, my friend.

      And your rainbow story is, like so many of your comments, a true poem in itself, replete with beauty and wonder. Thank you for sharing that incredible moment with me – and Mana Forbes sounds like my kind of people, too. N.

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