Lightly child, lightly.

For the flight of a single butterfly
the entire sky is needed.

~ Paul Claudel,  1868 – 1955, French poet and dramatist.


Notes:

  • Photo Source: My Modern Met. France-based street artist Mantra transforms multi-story buildings into gigantic butterfly specimen cases in a series of clever, trick-of-the-eye 3D murals. The enormous, hyper-realistic butterflies appear to be set within wooden-framed boxes, recessed into the side of each building. Long shadows and subtle details, which suggest a transparent glass surface, create a convincing level of depth that helps to enforce the head-turning optical illusions.
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Inevitably alchemy, the lesser into the greater,
morphing to the pupa stage, the chrysalis,
but faster, the cuticle of skin sloughed off,
regrown, and shed again, each larval, instar
meta phase passing through more molting lives
than saints — five, six times before the final birth,
then into the light, like eyes wadded up, then slowly,
with the blood, wings opening. Opening and closing.

Stanley Plumly, from “Butterflies,” Old Heart: Poems.


Notes:

  • Quote: Vale of Soul Making.  Photo: Brooke Shaden with Season Changing
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Saturday Morning. Call it Rest.

azure-butterfly-hand

 

Call it Rest. I sit on one of the branches. My idleness suits me. I am content. I have built my house. The blue butterflies, called azures, twinkle up from the secret place where they have been waiting. In their small blue dresses they float among the branches, they come close to me, one rests for a moment on my wrist. They do not recognize me as anything very different from this enfoldment of leaves, this wind-roarer, this wooden palace lying down, now, upon the earth, like anything heavy, and happy, and full of sunlight, and half asleep.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Building The House” in Upstream: Selected Essays

 


Photo: Shmoo Shots with A Visit from the Spirit of a Lost Friend. “Summer Azure butterfly which landed on my left wrist and stayed and stayed and stayed while I balanced the camera and took photos with my right hand.”

Monday Morning: Echo, echo, echo…

mem52

I want to write a poem
as simple as a glass of water
or as a piece of bread abandoned
on the table by a child
A poem transparent like a window
light like a winged ingot of lead and
yet heavy like butterflies among city lorries
A poem wrought of invisible words
Whose echo is heard for some hundreds of years
Murmuring like a river, forever.

Stefan Baciu, “Stylus,” trans. Robert Austerlitz, Poetry Northwest


Notes: Poem Source: Memory’s Landscape.  Photo: philippe conquet with mem 52

 

Good. Now here’s what poetry can do.

photograph-butterfly-butterflies-hand,

Good. Now here’s what poetry can do.

Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There’s an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You’re beautiful for as long as you live.

~ Stephen Dunn, from Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry (1966)

 


Notes:

  • Post inspired by: “Butterflies are not insects,’ Captain John Sterling said soberly. ‘They are self-propelled flowers.” from Robert A. Heinlein, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. Thank you Beth at Alive on All Channels.
  • And inspired by ZME Science: “The caterpillar’s  metamorphosis from a tree clinging, 12-legged pest into the majestic flying butterfly is one of the most used metaphors to describe a 180 transformation. It’s truly a fantastic mechanism developed by nature, yet while all my seem fantastic on the outside, this transformation looks pretty gruesome deep inside the chrysalis. In short, for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly it digests itself using enzymes triggered by hormones, before sleeping cells similar to stem cells grow into the body parts of the future butterfly.”
  • Stephen Dunn Poem excerpt from The Vale of Soul-Making
  • Photo from We Heart It

 

 

The Poweshiek Skipperling

skipperling-butterfly-extinction

Consider the Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek). Most people don’t. It has few Facebook friends or people crying out to ‘Save the Skipperling’. Yet the skipperling is now one of the most rapidly declining animals in North America…skipperlings appear to have blinked out from 96 per cent of their prairie sites in a range stretching from Manitoba to Michigan. This elegant animal, dying out on our own continent, might be more imperiled than pandas or lions. And you’ve probably never heard of it. The Poweshiek skipperling is a butterfly.

As best I can tell, I’ve never witnessed extinction. Never have I known a plant or animal, only to see it vanish forever from Earth. The Poweshiek skipperling could become my first. Few of us know this kind of loss. It does not compare with the death of a friend or a family member. That is absolute and visceral loss. Nor is the loss of the skipperling quite like the closing of our favourite coffee joint. That is tolerable loss. A park might become a shopping mall. We lost Jimi Hendrix but not his music. These are losses – but they are not extinction…

I’ve met the Poweshiek skipperling in the prairie. If this species goes extinct, I will mourn it…Once the skipperling heads to oblivion, I will have only the memory of spending the afternoon of 13 July 2003, in a prairie fen in Michigan, on my knees and on my belly with this tiny orange butterfly.

~ Bryan Pfeiffer, in an excerpt from Ghosts and Tiny Treasures


Notes: Photograph: Skippering Butterfly by Bryan Pfeiffer

 

the butterfly that sits softly on our shoulder

photography-butterfly-portrait-shoulder

NY Times: Are the Best Things in Life Free?

Coco Chanel is reputed to have said, “The best things in life are free. The second-best things are very, very expensive.” Below, Richard Hell, Yanis Varoufakis, Karl Lagerfeld, Mikhail Prokhorov, Youssou N’Dour, Andreja Pejic and Yao Chen tell us about their favorite things, and contemplate why most of us are so rarely satisfied with sunshine, love and the stars above.

Richard Hell (American Singer, songwriter, writer): “…I’ve learned that once you get what you want, you will just want either a greater amount of it, or you will want something else. The best thing to have is a vocation — to like doing something rather than having something. Because then the wanting more is just about wanting to be able to do it better, and that actually pays off…”

Yanis Varoufakis ( a politician, an academic economist and Greece’s former finance minister):  …In the 19th century, some American journals published this definition: “Happiness is like a butterfly, which when pursued seems always just beyond your grasp; but if you sit down quietly, may light upon you.” Ceasing this materialistic pursuit costs nothing at all! If the pursuit of happiness is condemned to be self-defeating, what should our guide be? The optimist in me believes that there is something innate in humans that, like the mechanism that prompts sunflowers to follow the sun across the sky, can help unleash our creative side. For the hell of it. With happiness the unintended byproduct, the butterfly that sits softly on our shoulder…Alas, the Sirens of daily toil can distract us and turn us into consumers who like what they buy, buy what they think they like, and end up bored and dissatisfied — permanently unable to specify the nature of their discontent and living confirmations of Mark Twain’s point about the “limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.”

Yao Chen (Chinese Actress and Activist): “…The best things in life really are free. They are indispensable and always with us, like air, sunlight and water. We pay them little attention, taking them for granted. Only when you are about to lose something — when your eyesight goes dim, your health begins to fade or the natural resources you rely upon grow scarce or are polluted — do you start to realize how precious it was…”

Don’t miss entire article: Are the Best Things in Life Free?


Photograph: O My Enemy

So it has come to this

black-butterfly-portrait

So it has come to this
insomnia at 3:15 A.M., 
the clock tolling its engine 
[…]
All night dark wings 
flopping in my heart. 
Each an ambition bird
[…]

Anne Sexton, The Ambition Bird, The Complete Poems, Anne Sexton


Notes: Poem Source – Didier Leclair.  Photo: Pause Between Thoughts

How else, indeed

red-butterfly-butterflies-painting-art-Hermann-Teuber

It is necessary to write,
if the days are not to slip emptily by.
How else, indeed,
to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?
For the moment passes, it is forgotten;
the mood is gone; life itself is gone.

~ Vita Sackville-West, Selected Writings


Sources: Poem Source:Schonwiener. Painting by Hermann Teuber, Red Butterflies, (1959) (via Journal of a Nobody)

Lightly Child, Lightly

butterfly-hand-black-and-white

There were days
when we could catch light
in a butterfly net.

~ Richard Jackson, from “That’s What I’m Talking About,” Resonance: Poems


Notes:

  • Image Source: Journal of a Nobody. Poem: Memory’s Landscape
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
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