Thursday, 19 June 2014

Day 699: Butterfly

“Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.”~ Vladimir Nabokov

According to my inspiring almanac - The Awe-Manac - today is National Butterfly Day! 

So many poems about butterflies, so many meanings and metaphors related to them. Butterflies can be happiness, elusive like Thoreau famously pointed out, or they can be markers of beauty, of freedom, transformation, and in many traditions around the world, a symbol for the soul. 

I was torn between a few choices on what to post today - surprisingly, for all their variety of meaning, there are not that many good poems about butterflies out there! (Please, if you have any suggestions, do let me know!) A few weeks ago I posted a really good poem about a butterfly 'The Example' by William Henry Davies (you can read it here). Others I like are a little too melancholy ('Mariposa' - Edna St Vincent Millay') or twee for the occasion, so today it's Emily, who's written extensively on the 'fellows' of the natural world,  on maybe the most alluring aspect of the butterfly and a most powerful metaphor - metamorphosis.

From the Chrysalis - Emily Dickinson

My cocoon tightens, colors tease,
I'm feeling for the air;
A dim capacity for wings
Degrades the dress I wear. 

A power of butterfly must be
The aptitude to fly,
Meadows of majesty concedes
And easy sweeps of sky. 

So I must baffle at the hint 
And cipher at the sign, 
And make much blunder, if at last
I take the clew divine.

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