Butterflies Poems

Poems about butterflies often consider the small bug as a representation of a larger theme, like freedom or beauty. Others consider the creature as an independent life, analyzing what it might be thinking or feeling.

Many poets have chosen to look at the creature from a sympathetic or thoughtful view, considering what it does daily and how it might communicate with birds, flowers, and other insects. Butterflies are traditionally beautiful and fragile; this has led many of the best poets in the English language and around the world to depict the insects as symbols of femininity, childhood, freedom, dreams, and more. 

Poets as different as Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson have written poems about butterflies, indicating the universal appeal of these small creatures and the ways that they have acted as poetic muses throughout time.

To a Butterfly

by William Wordsworth

There are two poems by the title ‘To a Butterfly’ in William Wordsworth’s 1807 poetry collection, “Poems, in Two Volumes.” The first poem is the best-known in comparison to the latter one.

Written in 1801, ‘To A Butterfly’ is a two-stanza poem in which the speaker describes observing a butterfly. He speaks about where it sat, not knowing its habits, and the connection he feels between that creature and himself.

Stay near me - do not take thy flight!

A little longer stay in sight!

Much converse do I find in thee,

Historian of my infancy!

Two Butterflies went out at Noon—

by Emily Dickinson

‘Two Butterflies went out at Noon—,’ by one of the greatest American poets, Emily Dickinson is a thought-provoking piece of art. It boundlessly captures the journey of two butterflies to eternity.

This is one of two wonderful Dickinson poems that speak about butterflies. ‘Two Butterflies went out at Noon—’ describes two butterflies taking flight together. She uses personification to depict their movements. She describes them as voyagers setting off upon a “shining sea” whose movements are not reported to her.

Two Butterflies went out at Noon—

And waltzed above a Farm—

Then stepped straight through the

Firmament And rested on a Beam—

The Butterfly

by Pavel Friedmann

In this heartbreaking poem, Friedmann writes about the last butterfly he saw and uses it as a symbol for loss and approaching death during the Holocaust.

In this piece, the speaker taps into themes of confinement and freedom. He also alludes to those of hope and despair. These themes are embodied in this poem through the image of a butterfly. It’s quite haunting and beautifully written. Even more than a depiction of butterflies, this poem is an allusion to the Holocaust, written by a poet who died in Auschwitz in 1994.

He was the last. Truly the last.

Such yellowness was bitter and blinding

Like the sun’s tear shattered on stone.

That was his true colour.

Blue-Butterfly Day

by Robert Frost

‘Blue-Butterfly Day’ by Robert Frost beautifully describes the movements of a flock of butterflies. He uses them as a way of describing the cycle of life and death.

This piece describes the movements of a flock of blue butterflies, their deaths, and reincorporation into the muddy April ground. Frost taps into important themes like life, death, beauty, and change in the very short lines of this butterfly poem.

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,

And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry

There is more unmixed color on the wing

The Butterfly

by Alice Freeman Palmer

‘The Butterfly’ by Alice Freeman Palmer is one of the best poems concerning the beauty of a butterfly. This poem is a poetic longing for being like a butterfly, beautiful, and heavenly.

In this four-stanza poem, the speaker directs her words to a butterfly, something she refers to as an “Exquisite child of the air.” This metaphor is a lovely depiction of how this poet sees these insects. In the following lines, she celebrates the creature, loving how it allows her to think about her life differently.

I hold you at last in my hand,

Exquisite child of the air.

Can I ever understand

How you grew to be so fair?

From cocoon forth a butterfly

by Emily Dickinson

‘From cocoon forth a butterfly,’ also known as ‘The Butterfly’s Day,’ is a beautiful poem written by the American poet Emily Dickinson. This poem presents the themes of the vanity of life and oblivion.

In ‘The Butterfly’s Day,’ Dickinson compares a butterfly to a woman. It emerged from a cocoon as a “lady from her door” into the “summer afternoon.” As the poem continues, readers have to work out whether or not the speaker is thinking about a butterfly or a woman.

From Cocoon forth a Butterfly

As Lady from her Door

Emerged — a Summer Afternoon —

Repairing Everywhere —

Ode to a Butterfly

by Thomas Wentworth Higginson

‘Ode to a Butterfly’ by Thomas Wentworth Higginson is a thoughtful meditation on nature’s one of the daintiest creations, the butterfly. Higginson glorifies this tiny insect by using several metaphors and symbols.

‘Ode to a Butterfly' addresses the butterfly without using the word “butterfly.” The speaker spends the lines celebrating the butterfly’s beauty and freedom. Scholars have suggested that this poem is connected to the poet’s work as an activist for women’s rights and an abolitionist.

Thou spark of life that wavest wings of gold,

Thou songless wanderer mid the songful birds,

With Nature's secrets in thy tints unrolled

Through gorgeous cipher, past the reach of words,

After Wings

by Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

‘After Wings’ by Sarah Piatt is a short poem that centers on the wings of a butterfly. This poem highlights the importance of accepting change as it is the essence of life.

Sarah Piatt, a nineteenth and twentieth-century poet, wrote ‘After Wings’ (published 1915) to speak about what comes after learning to “wear/ Wings once.” And the need to keep them “fain,” “high and fair.” If one loses their wings, they’ll have to endure the pain of becoming a worm again.

This was your butterfly, you see.

  His fine wings made him vain?—

The caterpillars crawl, but he

  Passed them in rich disdain?—

The Butterfly and the Bee

by William Lisle Bowles

‘The Butterfly and the Bee’ is a children’s poem written by the English poet William Lisle Bowles. This poem contrasts the life of a bee and that of a butterfly.

In the three stanzas of ‘The Butterfly and the Bee,’ the speaker describes a conversation he thought he overheard between a butterfly and a “laboring bee.” The butterfly speaks about the bee’s lack of colors, and the bee responds that colors are beneath his care. He thinks wearing colors is for “gaudy sloth[s].”

Methought I heard a butterfly

Say to a labouring bee:

'Thou hast no colours of the sky

On painted wings like me.'

A Butterfly Talks

by Annette Wynne

‘A Butterfly Talks’ is a children’s poem written by the American poet Annette Wynne. In this short poem, the poet emphasizes the splendor of simple things in nature.

‘A Butterfly Talks’ is a short poem in which the speaker describes a butterfly’s movements around flowers and how she understands the creature’s mind. She believes that he sees things that puzzle him and thinks “as well as some who write and read.”

A butterfly talks to each flower

And stops to eat and drink,

And I have seen one lighting

In a quiet spot to think;

Explore more poems about Butterflies

The Butterfly’s Dream

by Hannah F. Gould

‘The Butterfly’s Dream’ by Hannah Flagg Gould explores how excessive pride destroys oneself. To present this theme the poet presents an allegorical story of a butterfly and its dream.

‘The Butterfly’s Dream’ is a fairly long poem in which the speaker describes a butterfly’s actions, thoughts, and dreams. He speaks in his sleep, insults those he thinks he’s seeing, and finally dies.

A tulip, just opened, had offered to hold

A butterfly, gaudy and gay;

And, rocked in a cradle of crimson and gold,

The careless young slumberer lay.


by Richard de Zoysa

The poem ‘Lepidoptera’ is a metaphorical representation of a mentally ill mind, likened to a broken butterfly wing. The poet is imploring society to support those with mental illness.

Richard de Zoysa uses the butterfly as a metaphor for the mind in his poem 'Lepidoptera.' He emphasizes the delicate and fragile nature of the human mind, highlighting the fleeting and transient nature of thoughts and emotions. By comparing the mind to a butterfly, de Zoysa conveys that just as a butterfly can be easily damaged, so too can the mind. This metaphor emphasizes the importance of treating the mind with care and compassion, especially when dealing with mental health issues.

On broken butterfly wing,

your crippled mind fluttered into my schoolroom. Failed. And died.

I couldn’t do a thing to stir its organs

of poor maimed sense to life again.


by Helen Hunt Jackson

‘Milkweed’ by Helen Hunt Jackson is a sonnet concerning the beauty of the milkweed plant. Here the poet upholds the importance of humbleness and simplicity.

Despite the fact that the poet doesn’t mention the word “butterfly” until the poem is almost over, it’s clear from the start that she’s thinking about one, while also addressing and talking about the milkweed that the insect feeds on.

O patient creature with a peasant face,

Burnt by the summer sun, begrimed with stains,

And standing humbly in the dingy lanes!

There seems a mystery in thy work and place,

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