Deep in the sun-searched growths the
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky…
~Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Silent Noon,” The House of Life, 1870
No eye can detect the precise colour of the
Occasionally a dragon fly comes up from the lake, its wings flashing in the sun, then is off on a swift errand of light, to be seen no more. I wonder what its part is in the scheme of existence, and if its life is wholly satisfactory to it. But then, I daresay insects are rarely pessimists, because they don’t live long enough. It is only the human young that are cynical, and they recover quickly, as if their pangs were growing pains, or cosmic colic. ~Dorothy Scarborough, “Entomology on a Country Porch,” From a Southern Porch, 1919
Clouds of insects danced and buzzed in the golden autumn light, and the air was full of the piping of the
The dewdrops hang on the bending grass,
A dragon-fly cuts a sunbeam through,
The moaning Cypress trees lift sombre arms
Up to skies of cloudless blue…
~Grace Hibbard, “Under a Mimosa Tree,” Wild Poppies, 1893
While it is difficult to determine an excuse for existence on the part of some insects, there are others that are obviously pleasure bugs — June-bugs, for instance, honeybees and big black beetles with iridescent green that occasionally walk across the porch with attitudinizing mien; dragon flies with wings flashing in the sun, the evening ghost-like moths. ~Dorothy Scarborough, “Entomology on a Country Porch,” From a Southern Porch, 1919 [a little altered
The dragon-fly is dancing,—
Is on the water glancing,
She flits about with nimble wing,
The flickering, fluttering, restless thing.
Besotted chafers all admire
Her light-blue, gauze-like, neat attire;
They laud her blue complexion,
And think her shape perfection…
~Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), “Die Libelle” (The Dragonfly), translated from German, in the The Athenæum: A Journal of Literature, Science, the Fine Arts, Music, and the Drama, 1855 March 31st [Although these two stanzas are lovely, the poem as a whole is not entirely beautiful in the same way, e.g. “My wings are gone — and I must mourn… And rot, and rot, in foreign mire,” so do keep that in mind if you intend to quote this.
On the waves of the brook she dances by,
The light, the lovely dragon-fly;
She dances here, she dances there,
The shimmering, glimmering flutterer fair.
And many a foolish young beetle’s impressed
By the blue gauze gown in which she is dressed;
They admire the enamel that decks her bright,
And her elegant waist so slim and slight…
~Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), “Die Libelle” (The Dragonfly), translated from German by Margaret Armour, 1906 [Quite a difference from the Athenæum translation, eh?
The beauteous dragonfly’s dancing
By the waves of the rivulet glancing;
She dances here and she dances there,
The glimmering, glittering flutterer fair.
Full many a beetle with loud applause
Admires her dress of azure gauze,
Admires her body’s bright splendour,
And also her figure so slender…
~Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), “Die Libelle” (The Dragonfly), translated from German into the original metre by Edgar Alfred Bowring, 1859 [See also the other two translations on this page.
Original post date: 2004 May 23
1st major revision: 2014 Oct 12
2nd major revision: 2019 Oct 28