by NONA BLYTH CLOUD
Summer has filled her veins with light and her heart is washed with noon. – C. Day Lewis
We are in deep summer now in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer brings abundance and sunlit hours that give us more time for looking up to study the sky, and leaning down in deep contemplation of water, or the hearts of flowers.
Too many of us ignore the call of summer. Struggling to keep up the frantic pace of the 21st Century, we lose the gift of these precious days.
Have you seen your first butterfly this year? Did you stop to watch it, or hurry past?
Butterflies have long been popular with poets around the world, symbols of beauty, the freedom of flight, and the brevity of life.
From Cocoon Forth A Butterfly
by Emily Dickinson
From Cocoon forth a Butterfly
As Lady from her Door
Emerged—a Summer Afternoon—
Without Design—that I could trace
Except to stray abroad
On Miscellaneous Enterprise
Her pretty Parasol be seen
Contracting in a Field
Where Men made Hay—
Then struggling hard
With an opposing Cloud—
Where Parties—Phantom as Herself—
To Nowhere—seemed to go
In purposeless Circumference—
As ’twere a Tropic Show—
And notwithstanding Bee—that worked—
And Flower—that zealous blew—
This Audience of Idleness
Disdained them, from the Sky—
Till Sundown crept—a steady Tide—
And Men that made the Hay—
And Afternoon—and Butterfly—
Extinguished—in the Sea—
Up they soar
by Inger Christensen
Up they soar, the planet’s butterflies,
pigments from the warm body of the earth,
cinnabar, ochre, phosphor yellow, gold
a swarm of basic elements aloft.
Is this flickering of wings only a shoal
of light particles, a quirk of perception?
Is it the dreamed summer hour of my childhood
shattered as by lightning lost in time?
No, this is the angel of light, who can paint
himself as dark mnemosyne Apollo,
as copper, hawkmoth, swallowtail.
I see them with my blurred understanding
as feathers in the coverlet of haze
in Brajcino Valley’s noon-hot air.
by Katherine Mansfield
In the middle of our porridge plates
There was a blue butterfly painted
And each morning we tried who should reach the butterfly first.
Then the Grandmother said: “Do not eat the poor butterfly.”
That made us laugh.
Always she said it and always it started us laughing.
It seemed such a sweet little joke.
I was certain that one fine morning
The butterfly would fly out of our plates,
Laughing the teeniest laugh in the world,
And perch on the Grandmother’s lap.
I Like for You to Be Still
by Pablo Neruda
I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy
I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid
I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would’ve died
One word then, One smile is enough
And I’m happy;
Happy that it’s not true
by Harun Al Nasif
My very birth sent forth a tremor
through the earth and heavens,
that unique frisson caused a stir
across the whole universe,
In the mosaic stretching
from the north-pole to the south-pole
it keeps engraved the perpetual hallmark
with great grace,
In the seamless muslin of the blowing
air tier by tier
is laced precisely the adroit tapestry
of that solitary resonance,
It’s trace is held with the fragrance
emanating from the florescence of time,
All over the ever-expanding space
its blooming buds are strewn
delineated with the streaks of lightning,
In all the organisms of the ocean
and every fold of the brine
the exact graphic grandeur of its culmination
is drawn exquisitely with subtle touch
Once just the first breath of mine
growing into a turbulent typhoon
swept across the wide continent
with its boisterous billow…
But today how do you show
such sardonic bravado to deny me
in immense ignorance,
Want to flout my abiding impulse
in a sheer negligence
as the trivial flutter of a trifling butterfly?
Without my hues the azure
would not have grown so cerulean
or the fauna verdant as much-
Despite knowing all these
should you have the audacity
to negate my distinct contributions
in the vibrant soiree of this colorful world,
shall I understand,
you want the drab and dreary wilderness
to reign over the entire creation.
Look, Have I not been here,
the visage of this vast landscape
kissing the sky-line
have never turned out to be as such,
in no way.
Who knows not that my arrival
has totally changed the panorama
of the operations of nature time and again?
But for my emergence,
the propelling tempo of the world
would have fallen into a stupor
and the wheel of eternity
would have come to a grinding halt.
Chuang Tzu And The Butterfly
by Li Po
Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,
And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.
Which was the real—the butterfly or the man ?
Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?
The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea
Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.
The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
Was once the Prince of the East Hill.
So must rank and riches vanish.
You know it, still you toil and toil — what for?
by Matsuo Bashō
The butterfly is perfuming
Its wings in the scent
Of the orchid.
The butterfly counts not months but
moments, and has time enough.
– Rabindranath Tagore
by Langston Hughes
Just because I loves you –
That’s de reason why a soul is full of color
Like de wings of a butterfly.
Just because I loves you
That’s de reason why
Ma heart’s a fluttering aspen leaf
When you pass by.
The Genesis Of The Butterfly
by Victor Hugo
The dawn is smiling on the dew that covers
The tearful roses; lo, the little lovers
That kiss the buds, and all the flutterings
In jasmine bloom, and privet, of white wings,
That go and come, and fly, and peep and hide,
With muffled music, murmured far and wide.
Ah, the Spring time, when we think of all the lays
That dreamy lovers send to dreamy mays,
Of the fond hearts within a billet bound,
Of all the soft silk paper that pens wound,
The messages of love that mortals write
Filled with intoxication of delight,
Written in April and before the May time
Shredded and flown, playthings for the wind’s playtime,
We dream that all white butterflies above,
Who seek through clouds or waters souls to love,
And leave their lady mistress in despair,
To flit to flowers, as kinder and more fair,
Are but torn love-letters, that through the skies
Flutter, and float, and change to butterflies
by Louise Glück
Look, a butterfly. Did you make a wish?
You don’t wish on butterflies.
You do so. Did you make one?
It doesn’t count.
Look for the butterflies of your summer days – otherwise, it will be autumn before you’ve blinked thrice, and you’ll have missed them.
- C. Day-Lewis (1904-1972) Anglo-Irish poet, Poet Laureate of Great Britain 1968-1972, also wrote mystery novels under the pen-name Nicholas Blake; father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis
- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) American’s best-known woman poet and one of the nation’s greatest and most original authors, lived the life of a recluse in Amherst MA
- Inger Christensen (1935-2009) Danish poet, novelist and essayist; considered the foremost Danish experimentalist poet of her generation
- Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) noted New Zealand mordernist short story writer and poet; moved to the UK in 1907; became friends with D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf; died of extrapulmonary tuberculosis at age 34
- Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) Chilean author and diplomat, whose affiliation with the Communist Party stirred controversy. Considered Chile’s greatest poet. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (1971)
- Harun Al Nasif – unfortunately, while many of his poems have been translated into English, I was not able to find biographical information in translation
- Li Po (circa 701-762 BC) was born in Sezchaun, China, but retired while still in his teens to a remote mountain area, and lived as a religious recluse for some time, then came down to Yun-meng, a town nead the Yangtse River, where he married. For the rest of his life, he was a wandering poet, but was well-received at the imperial court when he arrived in the capital, Chang-an around 742. Now recognized as one of the greatest poets of the Tang era
- Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694) the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan, considered the greatest master of haiku; his success came early in life, but later he took to wandering through the country in search of inspiration
- Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) born in British India’s Calcutta (now Kolkata), he has had major influence on Bengali literature and music. His brief poems in the collection Fireflies have been widely translated
- Langston Hughes (1902-1967) born in Joplin Missouri, after working his way to Europe as a ship’s crewman, he spent time in Paris, and London, then returned to the states, spending time in Washington DC, where he met Vachel Lindsay, who helped him gain recognition. He became of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City
- Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French novelist, poet and playwright, better known as a poet in France, and a novelist outside his homeland: (Les Misérables, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (French: Notre-Dame de Paris)
- Louise Glück (1943 – ) American poet born in New York City; won the 1933 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her collection The Wild Iris; U.S. Poet Laureate 2003 to 2004
- Monarch Butterfly with sunlit wings
- Meadow Brown Butterfly
- Red Butterfly with black markings
- Blue-and-white plate with Blue Butterfly
- Purple Imperial Butterfly
- Azure Starry Night Cracker Butterfly
- Green Butterfly – Niagara Parks
- Swordtail Butterfly on orchid – Bob Jensen, photographer
- Spotted Purple Swallowtail Butterfly
- Marbled White Melanargia galathea Butterfly
- El Segundo Blue Butterfly
Word Cloud photo by Larry Cloud
Over 20 species of butterflies have been named after Nabokov’s characters – like “Lolita”, “Ada” or “Mashenka”. The director of the Nabokov museum Tatyana Ponomaryova says:
“This is very touching – and this is probably the only case when butterflies were called not after real people, but after literary characters. There is also a butterfly named after Vladimir Nabokov himself – a very rare American species which he discovered.”
Read more: https://sputniknews.com/voiceofrussia/2011/02/21/45412327.html
Once an interviewer asked Nabokov who, among his fictional characters, was his favorite. His favorite was, of course, Lolita. Pnin came in second. And they were both Volodya himself.
Thanks Malisha –
I had no idea so many butterflies were named for his characters!
They are of course both exquisitely beautiful and essential, along with bees and others, to the continuation of Earth’s plantlife, without which all life would be lost.