Photo by Kristen Stacy

Photo by Kristen Stacy

A poem by Imogen Sharpe exploring the way in which synesthesia impacts the senses.



What is that, which you call sight,

Which sings within the dark spaces,

And runs light fingers down my spine?

Those uneven melodies-

The sweet violin you call purple,

The bitter tang of yellow, which

Both hums and fizzes on my tongue.

So odd, to see you,

Other people, with those

Mono-sensory depictions-

As if I were a kaleidoscope

That spins so suddenly and you-

You do not understand.

But not all is sweetness, no

Never is one superior-

For you do not feel the

Searing, aching, painful

Red, the fire alarm which

Blinds, and tortures, whereas

To you, it only deafens.

“Together sensations”:

The Greek does put it well-

But you are you, and we

Can never walk in each other’s shoe,

You cannot know the chaos and the beauty

Of reading words as coloured blurs

Or hearing the smell of mint, or

The lullaby of stars-

But then, I will not know your peace,

Nor ever truly appreciate one sense,

For they are always many to me.

We may both be unalike,

But mayhap some time, the music

We can both enjoy.


Imogen is a first year English student, originally from Liverpool but has lived most of her life in Lancashire. The inspiration for her poem comes from a neurological condition she was born with, called synesthesia, where one sensory stimulus creates multiple sensory responses. It is at times a wonderful, but sometimes debilitating, way to live but she wouldn’t trade her perceptions for anything.

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