Thursday, 19 March 2009

The fragility of butterflies

The Brimstone (image courtesy of Internet butterfly images)
This week spring arrived, bright chilly mornings turning into warm sunny days. Earlier in the week on my lunchtime walk I saw the first butterflies of the year - yellow Brimstones and a Red Admiral, so delicate and lovely, the very sight of them can only bring joy to the beholder.

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 seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!
~William Wordsworth, "To a Butterfly"

Last night I watched a French film called The Diving Bell & The Butterfly (Le Scaphanfre Et Le Papillon) a very moving film about a 43 year old editor of the fashion magazine Elle, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a stroke leaving him with 'locked in' syndrome. He could hear and see but could not speak or move. However, with the movement of his left eyelid and the use of a special alphabet code he went on to dictate his moving memoir and died 2 days after it was published. The film affected me deeply and I came away reflecting on the strength of the human spirit. How it can lift itself out of the most deadening of physical imprisonments to soar like a skylark. As fragile and resilient as the first butterfly of spring.
Notes on word association with butterflies:
Chrysalis from the Greek Chrysos meaning gold - the name for the gold coloured sac the caterpilla is coccooned before its metamorphosis into a butterfly.
Metamorphosis - meaning transformation. This is a word I like a lot, it seems to define all sorts of possibilities for creative or artistic change.