Poetry: John Updike, 'Rainbow'


Audio: Hear John Updike read this poem, recorded in 2000. (0:51)

Also by John Updike:
Doo-Wop (2007)
Half Moon, Small Cloud (2006)
Male Voices, From Below (2005)
TV (2003)

Recent fiction:
The Apparition (2007)
Varieties of Religious Experience (2002)
Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War (1998)

originally published November 2000

Short storms make the best rainbows--
twenty minutes of inky wet, and then,
on the rinsed atmosphere's curved edge,
struck by the re-emergent sun
in impermanent and glorious coinage,
mint-fresh from infra-violet to ultra-red,
gigantic, ethereal, rooted in the sea
seen through it, dying a bell-buoy green,

it has appeared. And when it fades, today,
it leaves behind on the bay's flat glaze
a strange confetti of itself, bright dots
of pure, rekindled color, neon-clear.
What are we seeing? Lobster-pot markers,
speckling the brine with polychrome.



John Updike (1932-2009) was the author of more than fifty books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including the collections Endpoint (2009), Americana (2001), and Collected Poems 1953-1993. His poems and light verse appeared frequently in the Atlantic for more than forty years.

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

Just In