20 Greatest Poems About Butterflies

My colorful childhood always pops up in my mind when I think about butterflies. I can still remember when my kindergarten friends and I used to go to our school’s garden only to find butterflies flying around some flowers happily. We cheerfully run towards them and giggle at each other. I really miss those days.

Up until now, I’m still amazed by the beauty of each butterfly I came across with. The butterflies’ colors never failed to warm my heart and bring back my child-like excitement whenever I see them.

These are twenty (20) greatest poems about butterflies. If you also like them, these poems are for you.

Keep reading!

Butterflies


Eyes aloft, over dangerous places,
The children follow the butterflies,
And, in the sweat of their upturned faces,
Slash with a net at the empty skies.


So it goes they fall amid brambles,
And sting their toes on the nettle-tops,
Till, after a thousand scratches and scrambles,
They wipe their brows and the hunting stops.


Then to quiet them comes their father
And stills the riot of pain and grief,
Saying, “Little ones, go and gather
Out of my garden a cabbage-leaf.

“You will find on it whorls and clots of
Dull grey eggs that, properly fed,
Turn, by way of the worm, to lots of
Glorious butterflies raised from the dead.”


“Heaven is beautiful, Earth is ugly,”
The three-dimensioned preacher saith;
So we must not look where the snail and the slug lie
For Psyche’s birth…. And that is our death!

Rudyard Kipling

The Butterfly


I


O wonderful and winged flow’r,
That hoverest in the garden-close,
Finding in mazes of the rose,
The beauty of a Summer hour!


O symbol of Impermanence,
Thou art a word of Beauty’s tongue,
A word that in her song is sung,
Appealing to the inner sense!


Of that great mystic harmony,
All lovely things are notes and words –
The trees, the flow’rs, the songful birds,
The flame-white stars, the surging sea,


The aureate light of sudden dawn,
The sunset’s crimson afterglow,
The summer clouds, the dazzling snow,
The brooks, the moonlight chaste and wan.


Lacking (who knows?) a cloud, a tree,
A streamlet’s purl, the ocean’s roar
From Nature’s multitudinous store –
Imperfect were the melody!

II


O Beauty, why so sad my heart?
Why stirs in me a nameless pain
Which seems like some remembered strain,
As on this product of thine art


Enraptured, marvelling I gaze,
And note how airily ’tis wrought –
A winged dream, a bodied thought,
The spirit of the summer days?


Thy beauty opes, O Butterfly,
The doors of being, with subtle sense
Of Beauty’s frail impermanence,
And grief of knowing it must die.


Again I seem to know the tears
Of other lives, the woe and pain
Of days that died; resurgent wane
The moons of countless bygone years.


III


On other worlds, on other stars,
To us but tiny points of light,
Or lost in distances of night
Beyond our system’s farthest bars,


A priest to Beauty’s service sworn,
I sought and served her all my days,
With music and with hymns of praise.
In sunset and the fires of morn,

With thrilling heart her form I knew,
And in the stars she whitely gleamed,
And all the face of Nature seemed
Expression of her shape and hue.


I grieved to watch the summers pass
With all their gorgeous shows of bloom,
And sterner autumn months assume
Their realm with withered leaves and grass.

Mine was the grief of Change and Death,
Of fair things gone beyond recall,
The paling light of dawns, and all
The flowers’ vanished hues and breath.


IV


From out the web of former lives,
The ancient catenated chain
Of joy and sorrow, loss and gain,
One certain truth my heart derives: –

\Though Beauty passes, this I know,
From Change and Death, this verity:
Her spirit lives eternally –
‘Tis but her forms that come and go.


V


Lo! I am Beauty’s constant thrall,
Must ever on her voice await,
And follow through the maze of Fate
Her luring, strange and mystical.


Obedient to her summonings,
Forever must my soul aspire,
And seek, on wings of lyric fire,
To penetrate the Heart of Things,

Wherein she sits, augustly throned,
In loveliness that renders dumb –
The Essence and the final Sum –
With peril and with wonder zoned


What though I fail, my duller sense
Baffled as by a wall of stone?
The high desire, the search alone
Are their own prize and recompense.

Clark Ashton Smith

Butterfly And Snail.


All upstarts, insolent in place,
Remind us of their vulgar race.


A butterfly, but born one morning,
Sat on a rose, the rosebud scorning.
His wings of azure, jet, and gold,
Were truly glorious to behold;
He spread his wings, he sipped the dew,
When an old neighbour hove in view –
The snail, who left a slimy trace
Upon the lawn, his native place.


“Adam,” he to the gard’ner cried,
“Behold this fellow by my side;
What is the use with daily toil
To war with weeds, to clear the soil,
And with keen intermittent labour
To graft and prune for fruit with flavour
The peach and plum, if such as he,
Voracious vermin, may make free?
Give them the roller or the rake,
And crush as you would crush a snake.”


The snail replied: “Your arrogance
Awakes my patience from its trance;
Recalls to mind your humble birth,
Born from the lowliest thing on earth.
Nine times has Phoebus, with the hours,
Awakened to new life, new flowers,
Since you were a vile crawling thing!
Though now endowed with painted wing,
You then were vilest of the vile –
I was a snail, but housed the while;
Was born a snail, and snail shall die;
And thou, though now a butterfly,
Will leave behind a baneful breed
Of caterpillar sons – thy seed.”

John Gay

The Butterfly And The Bee. (From The Villager’s Verse-Book.)


Methought I heard a butterfly
Say to a labouring bee,
Thou hast no colours of the sky
On painted wings, like me.


Poor child of vanity! those dyes,
And colours bright and rare,
With mild reproof, the bee replies,
Are all beneath my care.


Content I toil from morn till eve,
And, scorning idleness,
To tribes of gawdy sloth I leave
The vanities of dress.

William Lisle Bowles

The Butterfly’s Day.


From cocoon forth a butterfly
As lady from her door
Emerged — a summer afternoon —
Repairing everywhere,


Without design, that I could trace,
Except to stray abroad
On miscellaneous enterprise
The clovers understood.

Her pretty parasol was 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 ‘t were 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 its sea.

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

My Butterfly


Thine emulous fond flowers are dead, too,
And the daft sun-assaulter, he
That frighted thee so oft, is fled or dead:
Save only me
(Nor is it sad to thee!)
Save only me
There is none left to mourn thee in the fields.


The gray grass is not dappled with the snow;
Its two banks have not shut upon the river;
But it is long ago—
It seems forever—
Since first I saw thee flance,
With all the dazzling other ones,
In airy dalliance,
Precipitate in love,
Tossed, tangled, whirled and whirled above,
Like a limp rose-wreath in a fairy dance.


When that was, the soft mist
Of my regret hung not on all the land,
And I was glad for thee,
And glad for me, I wist.


Thou didst not know, who tottered, wandering on high,
That fate had made thee for the pleasure of the wind,
With those great careless wings,
Nor yet did I.


And there were other things:
It seemed God let thee flutter from his gentle clasp:
Then fearful he had let thee win
Too far beyond him to be gathered in,
Snatched thee, o’er eager, with ungentle grasp.


Ah! I remember me
How once conspiracty was rife
Against my life—
The languor of it and the dreaming fond;
Surging, the grasses dizzied me of thought,
The breeze three odors brought,
And a gem-flower waved in a wand!


Then when I was distraught
And could not speak,
Sidelong, full on my cheek,
What should that reckless zephyr fling
But the wild touch of thy dye-dusty wing!


I found that wing broken to-day!
For thou art dead, I said,
And the strange birds say.
I found it with the withered leaves
Under the eaves.

Robert Frost

Frogs Eat Butterflies. Snakes Eat Frogs. Hogs Eat Snakes. Men Eat Hogs.


It is true that the rivers went nosing like swine,
Tugging at banks, until they seemed
Bland belly-sounds in somnolent troughs,


That the air was heavy with the breath of these swine,
The breath of turgid summer, and
Heavy with thunder’s rattapallax,


That the man who erected this cabin, planted
This field, and tended it awhile,
Knew not the quirks of imagery,


That the hours of his indolent, arid days,
Grotesque with this nosing in banks,
This somnolence and rattapallax,


Seemed to suckle themselves on his arid being,
As the swine-like rivers suckled themselves
While they went seaward to the sea-mouths.

Wallace Stevens

The Horrid Voice of Science


“There’s machinery in the
butterfly;
There’s a mainspring to the
bee;
There’s hydraulics to a daisy,
And contraptions to a tree.”


“If we could see the birdie
That makes the chirping sound
With x-ray, scientific eyes,
We could see the wheels go
round.”


And I hope all men
Who think like this
Will soon lie
Underground.

Vachel Lindsay

O Autumn, Autumn!
O Autumn, Autumn! O pensive light
and wistful sound!
Gold-haunted sky, green-haunted ground!


When, wan, the dead leaves flutter by
Deserted realms of butterfly!
When robins band themselves together

To seek the sound of sun-steeped weather;
And all of summer’s largesse goes
For lands of olive and the rose!

Effie Lee Newsome

Love Songs (section III)


We might have coupled
In the bed-ridden monopoly of a moment
Or broken flesh with one another
At the profane communion table
Where wine is spilled on promiscuous lips


We might have given birth to a butterfly
With the daily news
Printed in blood on its wings.

Mina Loy

The Tuft of Flowers


I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.


The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.


I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.


But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,


‘As all must be,’ I said within my heart,
‘Whether they work together or apart.’


But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a ’wildered butterfly,


Seeking with memories grown dim o’er night
Some resting flower of yesterday’s delight.


And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.


I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;


But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,


A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.


I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.


The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,


Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.


The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,


That made me here the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;


And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.


‘Men work together.’ I told him from the heart,
‘Whether they work together or apart.’

Robert Frost

One Sister have I in our house (14)


One Sister have I in our house –
And one a hedge away.
There’s only one recorded,
But both belong to me.

One came the way that I came –
And wore my past year’s gown –
The other as a bird her nest,
Builded our hearts among.


She did not sing as we did –
It was a different tune –
Herself to her a Music
As Bumble-bee of June.


Today is far from Childhood –
But up and down the hills
I held her hand the tighter –
Which shortened all the miles –


And still her hum
The years among,
Deceives the Butterfly;
Still in her Eye
The Violets lie
Mouldered this many May.


I spilt the dew –
But took the morn, –
I chose this single star
From out the wide night’s numbers –
Sue – forevermore!

Emily Dickinson

On the Hill-Side


A Memory


You lay so still in the sunshine,
So still in that hot sweet hour—
That the timid things of the forest land
Came close; a butterfly lit on your hand,
Mistaking it for a flower.


You scarcely breathed in your slumber,
So dreamless it was, so deep—
While the warm air stirred in my veins like wine,
The air that had blown through a jasmine vine,
But you slept—and I let you sleep.

Radclyffe Hall

Fragmentary Blue


Why make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?


Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)—
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high,
It only gives our wish for blue a whet.

Robert Frost

To a Dead Friend


The moon still sends its mellow light
Through the purple blackness of the night;
The morning star is palely bright
Before the dawn.


The sun still shines just as before;
The rose still grows beside my door,
But you have gone.

The sky is blue and the robin sings;
The butterflies dance on rainbow wings
Though I am sad.


In all the earth no joy can be;
Happiness comes no more to me,
For you are dead.

Langston Hughes

A Psyche of Spring


Thou gaily painted butterfly, exquisite thing,
A child of light and blending rainbow hues,
In loveliness a Psyche of the Spring,
Companion for the rose and diamond dews;
‘Tis thine, in sportive joy, from hour to hour,
To ride the breeze from flower to flower.


But thou wast once a worm of hueless dye.
Now, seeing thee, gay thing, afloat in bliss,
I take new hope in thoughts of bye and bye,
When I, as thou, have shed my chrysalis.
I dream now of eternal springs of light
In which, as thou, I too may have my flight.

George Marion McClellan

A Baby Running Barefoot


When the bare feet of the baby beat across the grass
The little white feet nod like white flowers in the wind,
They poise and run like ripples lapping across the water;
And the sight of their white play among the grass
Is like a little robin’s song, winsome,
Or as two white butterflies settle in the cup of one flower
For a moment, then away with a flutter of wings.

I long for the baby to wander hither to me
Like a wind-shadow wandering over the water,
So that she can stand on my knee
With her little bare feet in my hands,
Cool like syringa buds,
Firm and silken like pink young peony flowers.

D. H. Lawrence

Song of a Second April


April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.


There rings a hammering all day,
And shingles lie about the doors;
In orchards near and far away
The grey wood-pecker taps and bores;
The men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.


The larger streams run still and deep,
Noisy and swift the small brooks run
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun,
Pensively,—only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Hallowmas


All hushed of glee,
The last chill bee
Clings wearily
To the dying aster:
The leaves drop faster:
And all around, red as disaster,
The forest crimsons with tree on tree.


A butterfly,
The last to die,
Droops heavily by,
Weighed down with torpor:
The air grows sharper:
And the wind in the trees, like some sad harper,
Sits and sorrows with sigh on sigh.


The far crows call;
The acorns fall;
And over all
The Autumn raises
Dun mists and hazes,
Through which her soul, it seemeth, gazes
On ghosts and dreams in carnival.


The end is near:
The dying Year
Leans low to hear
Her own heart breaking,
And Beauty taking
Her flight, and all her dreams forsaking
Her soul, bowed down ‘mid the sad and sere.

Madison Julius Cawein

Spring


Welcome, all hail to thee!
Welcome, young Spring!
Thy sun-ray is bright
On the butterfly’s wing.
Beauty shines forth
In the blossom-robed trees;
Perfume floats by
On the soft southern breeze.


Music, sweet music,
Sounds over the earth;
One glad choral song
Greets the primrose’s birth;
The lark soars above,
With its shrill matin strain;
The shepherd boy tunes
His reed pipe on the plain.


Music, sweet music,
Cheers meadow and lea;—
In the song of the blackbird,
The hum of the bee;
The loud happy laughter
Of children at play
Proclaim how they worship
Spring’s beautiful day.


The eye of the hale one,
With joy in its gleam,
Looks up in the noontide,
And steals from the beam;
But the cheek of the pale one
Is mark’d with despair,
To feel itself fading,
When all is so fair.


The hedges, luxuriant
With flowers and balm,
Are purple with violets,
And shaded with palm;
The zephyr-kiss’d grass
Is beginning to wave;
Fresh verdure is decking
The garden and grave.

Welcome! all hail to thee,
Heart-stirring May!
Thou hast won from my wild harp
A rapturous lay.
And the last dying murmur
That sleeps on the string
Is welcome! All hail to thee,
Welcome, young Spring!

Eliza Cook

So, here is the greatest compilation of poems about butterflies.

Let me know which one is your favorite! 😉

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