To a Butterfly

Topics: Meaning of life, Romanticism, Poetry Pages: 7 (1755 words) Published: October 26, 2010

Subject Poem- TO A Butterfly

By William Wordsworth

I've watched you now a full half-hour,
Self-poised upon that yellow flower;
And, little Butterfly! indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless!---not frozen seas5
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again !

This plot of orchard-ground is ours;10
My trees they are, my Sister's flowers;
Here rest your wing when they are weary;
Here lodge as in a sanctuary!
Come often to us, fear no wrong;
Sit near us on the bough!15
We'll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days, when we were young;
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.

Step 1


The title of this Romantic poem is To A Butterfly, and this title is a straightforward text that is relatively easy to analyze. The reader, upon close and critical inspection of the title, is struck with the simplicity of the title, which may or may not lead into a more deep, figurative meaning of the poem.

~ What mood/tone is already presented by the title?
The reader is intrigued by such a natural and simple title, and is drawn to read more of such a subject. The tone shows an unembellished and nude speaker who is seemingly writing to a butterfly. ~ What is expected to happen?

The reader expects the speaker to communicate and personify a butterfly, initiating a one-sided conversation with nature. ~ What themes are already present?
Romantic themes of nature are already present with the title. The theme of natural personification is revealed as the title forebodes the speaking to a butterfly. ~ What precedent or foundation does the title set for the rest of the poem? This title sets a precedent for an intimate piece of nature-human correspondence.

Step 2:2r2sc

After reading the poem, I have pulled together a summary of the most prominent literal and figurative meanings. This will establish a foundation of understanding and will allow me to bridge the gap between the literal and deeper meanings of the text.

My cold-read rough draft and my secondary secure read have extracted the most essential information in assisting the critical analysis of this poem:

The first stanza is a loosely constructed octosyllabic couplet concluded with a single line rhyming with the sixth.  It begins with Wordsworth speaking to a supposedly personified butterfly after having observed it sitting on a flower after a stretch of time.  The butterfly remains delicately poised on a flower, and the speaker expresses an insightful but tranquil confusion toward the creature: “indeed / I know not if you sleep or feed. / How motionless!—not frozen seas / more motionless!” (3-6).  The speaker’s insightful analogy of “frozen seas” (5) allows the reader to pull a vivid description and image of the butterfly’s deathlike immobility. Moreover, the speaker uses an antithesis in order to compare the frozen state of the butterfly to an excited, careless being with a light heart: “What joy awaits you, when the breeze / Hath found you out among the trees, / And calls you forth again!” (7-9).  These final three lines that gives the butterfly an almost childlike personality, it happily being roused to play by its friend, the breeze after being aroused from a transfixed, almost cold state.      The second stanza is again an octosyllabic couplet concluded with, notably, two lines; the first rhyming with the sixteenth and seventeenth lines, and the second with the fifteenth.  The speaker heartwarmingly welcomes the creature, knowing fully that although the creature does not comprehend the speaker’s communication, but finds almost an emotional equilibrium with the butterfly’s simple company. Furthermore the speaker is seen almost desiring the butterfly to stay; “Here lodge as in a sanctuary!” (13).  The poem continues as the speaker not only enjoys the...
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