Archives for posts with tag: butterflies

by James Tate

I was chasing this blue butterfly down
the road when a car came by and clipped me.
It was nothing serious, but it angered me and
I turned around and cursed the driver who didn’t
even slow down to see if I was hurt. Then I
returned my attention to the butterfly which
was nowhere to be seen. One of the Doubleday
girls came running up the street with her toy
poodle toward me. I stopped her and asked,
“Have you seen a blue butterfly around here?”
“It’s down near that birch tree near Grandpa’s,”
she said. “Thanks,” I said, and walked briskly
toward the tree. It was fluttering from flower
to flower in Mr. Doubleday’s extensive garden,
a celestial blueness to soothe the weary heart.
I didn’t know what I was doing there. I certain-
ly didn’t want to capture it. It was like
something I had known in another life, even if
it was only in a dream, I wanted to confirm it.
I was a blind beggar on the streets of Cordoba
when I first saw it, and now, again it was here.
“The Search for Lost Lives” appears in James Tate’s collection Return to the City of White Donkeys by James Tate (Ecco Press, 2004), available at

Image: “Reve de Papillon” (Butterfly’s Dream, detail) by Variance Collections, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Tate’s many poetry collections include The Ghost Soldiers (2008); Worshipful Company of Fletchers (1994), National Book Award winner; Selected Poems (1991), winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award; Distance from Loved Ones (1990); Constant Defender (1983); Viper Jazz (1976); and The Oblivion Ha-Ha (1970). Tate’s honors include an Academy of American Poets chancellorship, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. (Source:

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:


by Stephen Burt 

A real one wouldn’t need one,
but the one Nathan draws surely does:
four oblongs the size and color of popsicles,
green apple, toasted coconut and grape,
flanked, two per side, by billowing valentine hearts,
in a frame of Scotch tape.
Alive, it could stay off the floor,
for a few unaerodynamic minutes;
thrown as a paper airplane, for one or two more.

Very sensibly, therefore,
our son gave it something, not to keep it apart
from the ground forever, but rather to make safe its descent.
When we ask that imagination discover the limits
of the real
world only slowly,
maybe this is what we meant.
“Butterfly with Parachute” appears in Stephen Burt’s collection Belmont (Graywolf Press, 2013), available at


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. He grew up around Washington, D.C., and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. Burt has published three collections of poems: Belmont (2013), Parallel Play (2006), and Popular Music (1999).

Burt’s works of criticism include Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Art of the Sonnet—written with David Mikics (2010); The Forms of Youth: 20th-Century Poetry and Adolescence (2007); Randall Jarrell on W.H. Auden (2005), with Hannah Brooks-Motl; and Randall Jarrell and His Age (2002).

Burt has taught at Macalester College and is now Professor of English at Harvard University. He lives in the suburbs of Boston with his spouse, Jessie Bennett, and their two children. (Source:

Author Photo: Jessica Bennett, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

by Matsuo Basho

a strange flower
for birds and butterfly
the autumn sky.


“Hundreds of butterflies flitted in and out of sight like short-lived punctuation marks in a stream of consciousness without beginning or end.” HARUKI MURAKAMIIQ84


WRITING ADVICE FROM FRANZ KAFKA: Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion.”

ARTWORK: “Butterfly” by Andy Warhol 

Note: In ancient Greek, the word for butterfly is “Psyche,” a term now equated with “soul.”

Download Kafka’s classic tale of transformation, THE METAMORPHOSIS, for free at


Green was the silence, wet was the light

the month of June trembled like a butterfly.

from 100 Love Sonnets by PABLO NERUDA



“Well I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.” 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince 

Photo: “Green Butterfly on Green Plants” by Stephen Rother, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


“The butterfly’s attractiveness derives not only from colors and symmetry:  deeper motives contribute to it.  We would not think them so beautiful if they did not fly, or if they flew straight and briskly like bees, or if they stung, or above all if they did not enact the mystery of metamorphosis, which assumes in our eyes the value of a message, a symbol, a sign.” PRIMO LEVI

Photo: Ryan Learoyd, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


” … I come here every day, say hello to the butterflies, and talk about things with them. When the time comes, though, they just quietly go off and disappear. I’m sure it means they’ve died, but I can never find their bodies. They don’t leave any trace behind. It’s like they’ve been absorbed by the air. They’re dainty little creatures that hardly exist at all: they come out of nowhere, search quietly for a few, limited things, and disappear into nothingness again, perhaps to some other world.”  HARUKI MURAKAMI, IQ84

Photo: Melanie Huff, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED