"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words. " ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Butterfly Collection

ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS

My only sketch, profile of heaven is a large blue sky,
larger than the biggest I have seen in June --
and in it are my friends -- all of them -- every one them."

~ Emily Dickinson ~
[small original acrylic painted by friend Dot Menard, in 1977]

"Hey, Summertime!" What is it about butterflies? We can't seem to resist chasing, catching, collecting, displaying, even planting flowers especially to attract them. A number of butterfly images still linger in my mind from childhood, particularly the mid - 60s Coca Cola song and television ad in which a carefree girl swings on a rope way out over the edge of a creek:

"Birds and bees and all the flowers and trees,
Fishes on the line,
Girls and guys and yellow butterflies
Saying 'Hello summertime.'
Ice-cold Coke on the back of my throat
Saying "Hello summertime.
Hey summertime, hey summertime
You and me and summertime
It's the Real Thing."
(emphasis added)

Okay, that was television, but there are recollections from books as well, such as the magical luna moths that appear in both Then There Were Five (follow-up to The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright) and A Girl of the Limberlost (Hoosier classic by Gene Stratton-Porter). More recently, Up From Jericho Tel (by award winning novelist E. L. Konigsburg) contains not only a ceremonial burial for a stricken luna moth -- "Fly. Fluttter. Falter. Fall" -- but also the secret password: "Papillon!"

And speaking of Papillon! who could forget this little poem:

"Non. That means no.
Oui. That means yes.
And papillon. That means butterfly.
Oui, non, Papillon -- a very pretty rhyme."


from The Witch Family
by Eleanor Estes (1906 - 1988)
American Children's Author
Newbery Medalist & Honor Recipient

(In addition to the butterfly poem, The Witch Family also features the amazingly literate bumblebee: Malachi the Spelling Bee, a very impressive character indeed!)

A few years later into my collection came Butterflies Are Free, a 1972 film (based on a 1969 play of the same title by American playwright Leonard Gershe, 1922 - 2002). The movie stars Goldie Hawn as Jill, and Edward Albert (son of Eddie from Green Acres fame) as Don. I didn't go to many movies back in those days, but this one I did see at the cinema in 1973. I also saw the play performed live at a St. Louis dinner theatre in 1975, with Angela Cartwright (from Make Room for Daddy & Lost in Space) cast as the female lead. Goldie Hawn, so charming, would be a hard act for anyone, even Angela, to follow, but still I remember both versions favorably.

The title derives from Jill's favorite quotation: "I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies." When she claims that these words are from Mark Twain, Don politely points out that, in fact, Skimpole is not a Twain character but a Dickens character, from the novel Bleak House. Silly Jill; she's such an airhead!

Running through my mind along with the Coca Cola song is the tune that Don sings to Jill (music & lyrics by American musical theatre composer Stephen Schwartz, b. 1948):

"I knew the day you met me
I could love you if you let me
Though you touched my check
And said how easy you'd forget me
You said Butterflies Are Free
And so are we."



















Additional items in my Butterfly Collection include
1. the fanciful pictures above and below
by author and illustrator Cooper Edens, known for his whimsical artistry (see Green Tiger Press / Laughing Elephant)

2. this 1969 favorite from John Denver:

Catch Another Butterfly
Do you remember days not so very long ago
When the world was run by people twice your size?
And the days were full of laughter
And the nights were full of stars
And when you grew tired you could close your eyes

Yes the stars were there for wishing
And the wind was there for kites
And the morning sun was there for rise and shine
And even if the sniffles kept you
Home from school in bed
You couldn't hardly stay there after nine

And I wonder if the smell of morning's faded
What happened to the robin's song
That sparkled in the sky?
Where's all the water gone
That tumbled down a stream?
Will I ever catch another butterfly?

Do you remember campouts right in your own backyard?
Wondering how airplanes could fly
And the hours spent just playin'
With a funny rock you found
With crystal specks as blue as all the sky

And I wonder if the smell of morning's faded
What happened to the robin's song
That sparkled in the sky?
Where's all the water gone
That tumbled down a stream?
Will I ever catch another butterfly?

Now I watch my son, he's playin' with his toys
He's happy, I give him all I can
But I can't help feelin'
Just a little tingly inside
When I hear him say he wants to be a man

And I wonder if the smell of morning's faded
What happened to the robin's song
That sparkled in the sky?
Where's all the water gone
That tumbled down a stream?
Will I ever catch another butterfly?
Will I ever catch another butterfly?


lyrics & music by John Denver (1943 – 1997)
born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.
American singer - songwriter
Poet Laureate of Colorado, 1977


















3. this #5 hit from 1966:

Elusive Butterfly
You might wake up some mornin'
To the sound of something moving past your window in the wind
And if you're quick enough to rise
You'll catch a fleeting glimpse of someone's fading shadow
Out on the new horizon
You may see the floating motion of a distant pair of wings
And if the sleep has left your ears
You might hear footsteps running through an open meadow

Don't be concerned, it will not harm you
It's only me pursuing somethin' I'm not sure of
Across my dreams with nets of wonder
I chase the bright elusive butterfly of love

You might have heard my footsteps
Echo softly in the distance through the canyons of your mind
I might have even called your name
As I ran searching after something to believe in
You might have seen me runnin'
Through the long-abandoned ruins of the dreams you left behind
If you remember something there
That glided past you followed close by heavy breathin'

Don't be concerned, it will not harm you
It's only me pursuing somethin' I'm not sure of
Across my dreams with nets of wonder
I chase the bright elusive butterfly of love


lyrics & music by Bob Lind (b. 1942)
born Robert Neale Lind
American singer - songwriter

4. and to conclude, another brief
poem by Emily Dickinson:


The Butterfly upon the Sky,
That doesn't know its Name
And hasn't any tax to pay
And hasn't any Home
Is just as high as you and I,
And higher, I believe,
So soar away and never sigh
And that's the way to grieve --


*************************

5. Oui, non, Papillon!


COME BACK FOR
Next Fortnightly Post
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com

2 comments:

  1. Kit, I love the John Denver song and Emily's poem! My grandchildren and I watched a butterfly for the longest time the other day and they rarely are still for any length of time! So magical! Milly

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  2. This is great! I love butterflies & daffodils and also my birthday is in April! As a child, my grandma always had daffodils for my birthday! I have many birthday pictures holding daffodils, it was quite a tradition! Thank you Kitty!

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