You may have noticed that orange is the signature colour of this website.

Why orange?  Because its sensory spectrum stretches from brightness to warmth, sunrise to sunset, summer marigolds to autumn leaves to winter persimmons to the saffron gold of the spring crocus.

Not to mention a fruit that is round yet sharp, sweet yet zestful, waftily fragrant and startlingly spritzy, which I always associate with the first crate of oranges I ever saw, delivered to our house in time for Christmas, which for me was a cornucopia of citrus joy.

And then there is the poetic image embedded by an elderly friend, who told me of lying on a rug at a picnic in Iraq in the 1950s, eating oranges fresh from – and underneath – their trees, with someone having thoughtfully brought a jug of water to pour over and rinse the hands.

In Colour, Victoria Finlay also describes orange vividly, drawing on a laughing line of Rilke’s poem about this colour-fruit:

‘”Dance the orange,” the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke had written, in a wonderful waltzing poem about a fruit and a colour that pretend to be sweet but are actually rather rambunctious and challenging.’

The photo credit is PublicDomainPictures at  And here is Rilke’s orange-paean:

Wait … that tastes good … and is on the move.

… Just a slight music, a stamping, a hum –

Girls, for you are so wordless and warm,

dance the taste discovered in fruit!


Dance the orange. Who can forget

how it drowns in itself as it tries to resist

its own sure sweetness.  You have possessed it.

It made itself over to you, delicious.


Dance the orange.  Thrust warmer landscape

out of yourselves, that it may gleam

ripe in home breezes!  Ardent, unwrap


scents upon scents.  Begin to relate

yourself to its pure, refusing peel,

yourself to its full and gladdening sap!


Rainer Maria Rilke – Sonnets to Orpheus 1.XV

Wartet …, das schmeckt … Schon ists auf der Flucht.

… Wenig Musik nur, ein Stampfen, ein Summen -:

Mädchen, ihr warmen, Mädchen, ihr stummen,

tanzt den Geschmack der erfahrenen Frucht!


Tanzt die Orange.  Wer kann sie vergessen,

wie sie, ertrinkend in sich, sich wehrt

wider ihr Süßsein. Ihr habt sie besessen.

Sie hat sich köstlich zu euch bekehrt.


Tanzt die Orange.  Die wärmere Landschaft,

werft sie aus euch, daß die reife erstrahle

in Lüften der Heimat!  Erglühte, enthüllt


Düfte um Düfte. Schafft die Verwandtschaft

mit der reinen, sich weigernden Schale,

mit dem Saft, der die Glückliche füllt!


Rainer Maria Rilke – Sonette an Orpheus 1.XV

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