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Watching a butterfly makes the poet nostalgic and takes him back to his good old childhood days. This poem is like an appeal of the poet to the butterfly to stay for a little longer so he can watch it and think of his beautiful past.
The poem consists of two stanzas and follows a conventional rhyme scheme. The rhyme is aabbcbccb for both stanzas.
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! Float near me; do not yet depart! Dead times revive in thee: Thou bring’st, gay creature as thou art! A solemn image to my heart, My father’s family!
The poem begins with the raw emotions of the poet that are making him plead the butterfly to stay and not fly away just yet. He is asking nature’s beautiful winged creature to stay in his sight for a little longer. He addresses the butterfly as a historian of his infancy, meaning that the butterfly is a reminder of his juvenile days. He finds a lot of things that he wishes to talk about when he sees the butterfly. He pleads the butterfly to fly near him and not leave. The butterfly being bright and frolicsome revives and brings back the time that has passed. The poet has become rather solemn and emotional and starts thinking of his family.
Oh! pleasant, pleasant were the days, The time, when, in our childish plays, My sister Emmeline and I Together chased the butterfly! A very hunter did I rush Upon the prey-with leaps and springs I followed on from brake to bush; But she, God love her, feared to brush The dust from off its wings.
He reminisces about his pleasant days when his sister and he would play around and chase butterflies. The poet liked to play the fierce hunter and he would leap and rush behind the butterfly, dodging everything that so happened to obstruct his path. However, his sister was a very pure soul and was fearful of even brushing the dust off the butterfly’s wings. She did not want any harm to fall on the pretty little thing while her brother would treat it as his prey and hunt it.
More often than not, we think about the lovely days that we spent playing around and indulging in childish pleasures. The poem serves as a beautiful trip down memory lane, not just for the poet but everyone who reads it. One can not help but imagine their own selves running around freely and never getting tired.
As kids we wished for nothing more than to grow up but once grown, we happen to realise just how precious those days of childhood were.