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Song for Pythagoras

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White coat and purple coat
   a sleeve from both he sews.
That white is always stained with blood,
   that purple by the rose.

And phantom rose and blood most real
   compose a hybrid style;
white coat and purple coat
   few men can reconcile.

White coat and purple coat
   can each be worn in turn
but in the white a man will freeze
   and in the purple burn.


Dannie Abse, “Song for Pythagoras” from New and Collected Poems, published by Hutchinson. Used by permission of The Random House Group Limited, http://www.randomhouse.co.uk.
Source: White Coat Purple Coat: Collected Poems 1948-1988 (1994)
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Song for Pythagoras

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