This poem is short in structure but vast in its poetic range. The simplicity of this poem, ‘A Butterfly Talks’ reveals a great idea. Here, Annette Wynne talks about the beauty in nature’s simple objects or scenes. Moreover, the use of imagery in this poem helps one to picture the plot. The language of the poem is free-flowing. Wynne uses such lucid diction to make her idea clear to the readers. However, the main idea of the poem is that many things can puzzle an observer. If one has the eyes to see the spark in a thing, even a regular object can amaze him or her. Everything depends on the observer and highlighting it is the poet’s main purpose.
The speaker of the poem introduces a butterfly at the beginning. It seems that the poetic persona in a garden or somewhere out of the bounds of the four boundaries. There she finds a butterfly roaming from flower to flower. It is a stock image that one can see in the poems featuring butterflies. How the poet deals with this theme, is important to look into. However, in this poem, the speaker sees a butterfly talking to each flower. It stops to eat and drink the nectar in flowers. After seeing this scene, the speaker finds a sunlit and quiet spot. Standing there she meditates upon the scene. It appears to her many things puzzle oneself. Moreover, she believes the butterfly also thinks like those who write and read.
This poem is extremely short in structure. There are a total of six lines only in the text. The first four lines are short and the last two lines containing the main idea of the poem is longer than the previous lines. Moreover, this poem composed of only a sestet has a conventional rhyme scheme. The rhyme scheme of this piece is ABCBDD. One can see that in the first few lines the poet uses the simple 4-line rhyme scheme. While the last two lines form a rhyming couplet. Apart from that, the first four lines are composed in iambic trimeter. Besides, the last two lines having fourteen syllables, are fourteeners. Hence, these lines are composed in iambic heptameter.
‘A Butterfly Talks’ begins with a personification. Here, Wynne personifies the butterfly and invests it with the ability to speak. In the poem, the butterfly is seen talking to each flower. Thereafter, the poet uses enjambment to internally connect the lines of the text. Besides, there is a repetition of the conjunction, “and” in the second line. Thereafter, the second and third lines contain anaphora as they begin with a similar word. In the third line, the poet uses a metonymy by using “lighting”. Apart from that, the fourth line contains a personal metaphor in the phrase, “a quiet spot”. The last line of the poem contains a simile and here the comparison is made between the butterfly and writers. Along with that, this line also contains an epigram.
A butterfly talks to each flower
And stops to eat and drink,
And I have seen one lighting
In a quiet spot to think;
This poem, ‘A Butterfly Talks’ by Annette Wynne is composed of a first-person point-of-view. Hence, it is an ideal example of a lyric poem. However, the poem begins with a pleasant image of a garden or a place drenched with natural piety. In this visual imagery, one can see a butterfly suckling on flowers. While it sits on each flower graciously, according to the speaker, it talks with the flower. So, the idea of feeding is presented as having a warm conversation with someone in this poem.
Thereafter, the speaker remarks the butterfly after being welcomed by a flower, eats, and drinks at a flower’s imaginary house. Apart from that, in the following lines, the poetic persona remarks on what she has done after observing the butterfly. She has tried to find a quiet place to think about what she has just observed. Here, the poet illustrates this natural scene is of utmost importance. For this reason, she feels it is worthwhile to meditate upon this scene. However, readers can find an alliteration of the “t” sound in the last line of this section.
For there are many things he sees that puzzle him, indeed,
And I believe he thinks as well as some who write and read.
In the last two lines of the poem, the poet expresses her realization. Previously, she has told readers that she is going to think about the scene. Here, she presents the idea she has come up with. However, the speaker remarks that the butterfly sees many things that puzzle its soul. To emphasize this fact, she uses the adverb “indeed” in this line. She believes that this little creature also can think.
A poet suddenly amazed by a cloud or a nightingale’s sweet song, writes a thoughtful meditation upon that regular subject. Likewise, a thoughtful reader also finds the universe within a poem hardly containing a few lines. In this poem, the poet thinks the butterfly also thinks like a poet or a thoughtful reader. Wynne, in this way, emphasizes the significance of the insignificant ones such as a butterfly.
Biography of Annette Wynne
Annette Wynne is an American poet. Little is known about her life. Her literary career spans from 1919 to 1922. In 1919, she published her children’s poetry collection, “For Days and Days: A year-round treasury of child verse”. Thereafter, in 1922, her book “Treasure Things”, one of her best books of poetry, was published. In her book, “For Days and Days”, Wynne expressed her motivation behind writing children’s poetry:
The aim of these verses is to please children and others. They Were written, and arranged calendar-wise, for school children’s entertainments. Most teachers and parents find a dearth of usable material for young people’s recitations; it is commonplace that all good poetry is not good for such purposes. An attempt has been made to furnish, for all sorts of days, material that is close to the children’s experience and at the same time timely. This book, therefore, is Offered in the hope that it Will facilitate the search Of parents and teachers for joyous relaxation in the Land of School and otherwhere. (Source: For Days and Days: A Year-Round Treasury, of Child Verse)
Her other popular poems include ‘Indian Children’, ‘Little Tiger Cat’, ‘Pilgrims’, and ‘Plainfield’.
Here is a list of a few poems that also showcase similar kinds of themes present in Annette Wynne’s lyric ‘A Butterfly Talks’.
- Ode to a Butterfly by Thomas Wentworth Higginson – This poem is a meditation upon a butterfly that is portrayed as a “symbol of life”.
- After Wings by Sarah Piatt – In this poem, Piatt presents a mother-son conversation that concerns a butterfly and its fair wings.
- The Butterfly and the Bee by William Lisle Bowles – This children’s poem presents a contrast between the life of a butterfly and a bee.
- The Butterfly by Alice Freeman Palmer – Here, in this text, Palmer describes the awe-inspiring beauty of a butterfly and the poet’s desire to be like this creature.