by Avis Harley

The butterfly was there
before any human art was made.
Before cathedrals rose in prayer,
the butterfly was there.
Before pyramids pierced the air
or Great Wall stones were laid,
the butterfly was there.
Before any human, art was made.
“Before” appears in Avis Harley’s collection, The Monarch’s Progress: Poems with Wings (Boyds Mills Press, 2008), available at

PHOTO: “Red Heliconius Dora Butterfly” by Elena Elisseeva, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native of British Columbia, Avis Harley earned an MS in education and has spent much of her career in that field. The author of five books of poetry for children, she taught elementary school in England and Canada, and at the University of British Columbia, before retiring to focus on teaching poetry workshops. Her books include African Acrostics: A Word in Edgewise (2009); The Monarch’s Progress: Poems with Wings (2008); Sea Stars: Saltwater Poems (2006); Leap into Poetry: More ABCs of Poetry (2001); and Fly with Poetry: An ABC of Poetry (2000).   (Source: