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She planted dill for swallow-tails
and milkweed where monarchs would lay
their caterpillar offspring round
the grass green meadows of May.
The migrants returned then as always;
how quickly her crops were consumed!
but countless chrysalides dotted the dell
tucked inside their golden cocoons.
Then early one morning she beckoned
us watch the mystery unfold;
the metamorphosis almost complete
translucent shells gave up their gold.
Wet wings greeted the rising sun
and the warmth of a soft summer breeze,
soon butterflies coloured meadow and wood
floating gracefully throughout the trees.
She told us of unseen transcendings
as we watched the born-agains soar;
so certain were we then of heaven
as if we had been there before.
from: At the Water’s Edge
As far from pity as complaint,
As cool to speech as stone,
As numb to revelation
As if my trade were bone.
As far from time as history,
As near yourself to-day
As children to the rainbow’s scarf,
Or sunset’s yellow play
To eyelids in the sepulchre.
How still the dancer lies,
While color’s revelations break,
And blaze the butterflies!
(1830 – 1886)