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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 certainly

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.

 

~ James Vincent Tate, died on this day in 2015

 

Blue Morpho Butterfly by Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904)

With an assortment of young Carrotwoods, Indian Laurels, Japanese Privets, and a glorious pink Crepe Myrtle planted in my gardens this spring, among the trees is where I find myself every evening…watering, fertilizing, and coaxing them to make their home with me.

 

The linden, in the fervors of July,

Hums with a louder concert.  When the wind

Sweeps the broad forest in its summer prime,

As when some master-hand exulting sweeps

The keys of some great organ, ye give forth

The music of the woodland depths, a hymn

Of gladness and of thanks.

 

                                  ~ William Cullen Bryant

 

“Gardening” by Victor Gabriel Gilbert (1847-1933)

 

A boat beneath a sunny sky,

Lingering onward dreamily

In an evening of July –

 

Children three that nestle near,

Eager eye and willing ear,

Pleased a simple tale to hear –

 

Long has paled that sunny sky:

Echoes fade and memories die:

Autumn frosts have slain July.

 

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,

Alice moving under skies

Never seen by waking eyes.

 

Children yet, the tale to hear,

Eager eye and willing ear,

Lovingly shall nestle near.

 

In a Wonderland they lie,

Dreaming as the days go by,

Dreaming as the summers die:

 

Ever drifting down the stream –

Lingering in the golden gleam –

Life, what is it but a dream?

 

~ Lewis Carroll

 

“Woman with a Child in a Boat” by Berthe Morisot, 1892

Ask me no more where Jove bestows,

When June is past, the fading rose;

For in your beauty’s orient deep

These flowers as in their causes, sleep.

 

Ask me no more whither doth stray

The golden atoms of the day;

For in pure love heaven did prepare

Those powders to enrich your hair.

 

Ask me no more whither doth haste

The nightingale when May is past;

For in your sweet dividing throat

She winters and keeps warm her note.

 

Ask me no more where those stars light

That downwards fall in dead of night;

For in your eyes they sit, and there,

Fixed become as in their sphere.

 

Ask me no more if east or west

The phoenix builds her spicy nest;

For unto you at last she flies,

And in your fragrant bosom dies.

 

     ~ Thomas Carew

 

“The Soul of the Rose” by John William Waterhouse, 1907

The Layers

I have walked through many lives,

some of them my own,

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

When I look behind,

as I am compelled to look

before I can gather strength

to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling

toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing

from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels

wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe

out of my true affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled

to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind

the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way,

bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,

exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go

wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road

precious to me.

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

“Live in the layers,

not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.

 

~ Stanley Kunitz

 

“The Looking Glass” by Alexander Ignatius Roche (1861-1921)

Words can bang around in your head

Forever, if you let them and you give them room.

I used to love poetry, and mostly I still do,

Though sometimes “I, too, dislike it.”  There must be

Something real beyond the fiddle and perfunctory

Consolations and the quarrels—as of course

There is, though what it is is difficult to say.

The salt is on the briar rose, the fog is in the fir trees.

I didn’t know what it was, and I don’t know now,

But it was what I started out to do, and now, a lifetime later,

All I’ve really done.  The Opening of the Field,

Roots and Branches, Rivers and Mountains: I sat in my room

Alone, their fragments shored against the ruin or revelation

That was sure to come, breathing in their secret atmosphere,

Repeating them until they almost seemed my own.

We like to think our lives are what they study to become,

And yet so much of life is waiting, waiting on a whim.

So much of what we are is sheer coincidence,

Like a sentence whose significance is retrospective,

Made up out of elementary particles that are in some sense

Simply sounds, like syllables that finally settle into place.

You probably think that this is a poem about poetry

(And obviously it is), yet its real subject is time,

For that’s what poetry is—a way to live through time

And sometimes, just for a while, to bring it back.

 

~ From “Ninety-Fifth Street” by John Koethe

 

“Personification of Time in a Flower Garland” by Carstian Luyckx, 1650

Night in Day

The night never wants to end, to give itself over

to light.  So it traps itself in things: obsidian, crows.

Even on summer solstice, the day of light’s great

triumph, where fields of sunflowers guzzle in the sun—

we break open the watermelon and spit out

black seeds, bits of night glistening on the grass.

 

                                                  ~ Joseph Stroud

 

Vincent van Gogh

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