To a Butterfly by William Wordsworth

This poem is addressed to a butterfly. Wordsworth begs the butterfly to stay close to him because it reminds him of his past, his old home, and his childhood (“Much reading do I find in thee, Historian of my infancy.”) Wordsworth cannot bear to let the butterfly go because of what the butterfly represents-his father’s family. (“Dead times revive in thee;…A solemn image to my heart: My father’s family.”)

The second part of the poem is a reminiscence of those days and of the wonderful time he had chasing butterflies with his sister Emmeline. As a child, Wordsworth sees himself as a hunter who rushed his prey (“A very hunter, I did rush/ Upon the prey-with leaps and springs”). His sister on the other hand was much more loving and caring. (“But she, God love her, feared to brush/ The dust from off its wings!”). I remember my grandmother telling me that while it is okay to chase butterflies, one must be careful not to brush the dust off its wings. The butterfly needs the dust on its wings to fly and to brush it off would be, in a way, to commit a sin.

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