Recently, I took a morning walk in the woods. As I wandered down the wooded path, small white butterflies leapt up from the tall grass and fluttered around my legs. The movement of these butterflies really captured my attention. When one landed on the edge of a fern, I stopped to watch him for a moment before he jumped up and flew away.
I will have to admit I have developed a little bit of an obsession with butterflies lately. Over the past month, I have written about the Folklore of Butterflies, I have attempted some butterfly identification in Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in Haiku, and earlier this week I wrote about the Silver-bordered Fritillary and a butterfly’s temperature regulation strategies.
I even tried my hand at writing a haiku about Monarchs in Honeysuckle and the Pollinator Garden. Well, it turns out the Monarch in that haiku was actually the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. So with some help from fellow blogger and poet Barbara from Solitary4Tomorrow that haiku was tweaked to this:
A butterfly takes off From a breeze in the honeysuckle Oh no, not a Monarch
This spring has been such a wonderful time for me to engage with the butterflies. I have learned so much about them and they have become a muse for my writing and research. As I reflected on my emerging relationship with these wonderful insects, I began to wonder how butterflies may have influenced the writing, and more specifically the poetry, of others. This question became a call to action and I headed into the library to find other poems written about the butterfly.
3 Haikus About Butterflies
With every gust The butterfly finds a new home On the willow Basho quoted in Haiku Enlightenment
Even the butterfly-- Voiceless Buddhist service Chiyo-ni quoted in Haiku Enlightenment
A light heart Floating through this world . . . A pale blue butterfly Issa quoted in Haiku Enlightenment
2 Long Form Poems About Butterflies
“To a Butterfly” by William Wordsworth
Oh! pleasant, pleasant were the days, The time, when in our childish plays My sister Emmeline and I Together chased the Butterfly! A very hunter did I rush Upon the prey:—with leaps and springs I follow’d on from brake to bush; But She, God love her! feared to brush The dust from off its wings. Read the complete poem and analysis at Poem Analysis
“Two Butterflies Went Out at Noon” by Emily Dickinson
Two butterflies went out at noon And waltzed above a stream, Then stepped straight through the firmament And rested on a beam Read the complete poem and further analysis at Poem Analysis
There must be hundreds of more poems out there that try to capture the beauty and mystery of these insects. I know I am just scratching the surface of butterfly inspiration, and will have to admit I am partial to the haiku’s format because it encourages us to distill and translate a specific moment in time. The haiku ask us what is the essence of this moment. Rosenstock does a great job of explaining this concept in Haiku Enlightenment by writing:
“Haiku — and to a certain extent the nature-poetry of the Irish, the Chinese, the Inuit and the literature of tribal peoples — roots us in a meaningful existence, reminding us of the fragile interdependence of all living things and the illusory nature of matter, as seasons turn, as vapor changes to water, to ice.”
The process of writing haiku is something that encourages me to connect to nature. It asks me to let go of my assumptions and projections and see what is before me. It is a strategy I use for deeper nature connection. With that said, writing haiku is a skill that I need to develop. It is amazing how much there is to learn about writing so few syllables.
Do you have a favorite butterfly poem?. Share your favorite below in the comments.