by Bill George
University of Glamorgan, UK
How strange the beauty of the vision in the sky.
The bow of colours strong with lurking weaker bow above.
With constancy and symmetry divided by dark space.
And brightness changing with the rain.
A low sun behind us as we watch.
The arc will change from full when sun is low,
and disappear below the earth or sea as day comes on.
With winter rain and sun, it will be found.
In summer rain the bow is lost,
soon after dawn and shortly before dusk.
Symbolism rides high in media and in prose.
We follow Dorothy’s “yellow brick road” to Oz.
“Somewhere over the rainbow” hopes are raised.
But the pot of gold can never to a human be shown
using a moving eye at the apex of a moving cone.
But stranger still the unseen rays beyond the bow.
Beyond the red the rays of radio,
and stronger rays beyond the blue
show inner images which our bodies own,
but damage life when subject to excess.
Who gave us theory for this to track?
Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, Michelson, Dirac?
Some see the ray as wave-like and some a particle.
All agree the speed is fast and constant in emptiness
but slowed when passing through a substance.
The raindrop slows the red more than the blue
and separates each coloured image to the eye.
Absorption gives each object seen its special hue.
Tiny is the fraction of these sights we comprehend
from wider measured but unseen experiment.
Combusted carbon based fossil fuel enters the air.
Crude oil from the earth invades the land and sea.
The population of man increases beyond compare.
Creatures, plants and minerals meet our needs
for food and energy which soon may not be there.
Genesis links the image seen by Noah to a message from his God:
“I do set my bow in the cloud... This is the token of the covenant...
between me and you... and the waters shall no longer become a flood”
Extension of rainbow observation sees a growing amount
of damage, with little time to save the life we understood.