Poem of the Week: Insects
Poem of the Week is a new feature at The Metropolitan Field Guide which will offer one of my photographs along with a poem or a quote relating to some aspect of natural history. For the inaugural edition, this is a poem by John Clare, an English poet from the 1800’s who was known at the time as “the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet” although he felt he didn’t belong among the peasants.
These tiny loiterers on the barley’s beard,
And happy units of a numerous herd
Of playfellows, the laughing Summer brings,
Mocking the sunshine on their glittering wings,
How merrily they creep, and run, and fly!
No kin they bear to labour’s drudgery,
Smoothing the velvet of the pale hedge-rose;
And where they fly for dinner no one knows –
The dew-drops feed them not – they love the shine
Of noon, whose suns may bring them golden wine
All day they’re playing in their Sunday dress –
When night reposes, for they can do no less;
Then, to the heath-bell’s purple hood they fly,
And like to princes in their slumbers lie,
Secure from rain, and dropping dews, and all,
In silken beds and roomy painted hall.
So merrily they spend their summer-day,
Now in the corn-fields, now in the new-mown hay.
One almost fancies that such happy things,
With coloured hoods and richly burnished wings,
Are fairy folk, in splendid masquerade
Disguised, as if of mortal folk afraid,
Keeping their joyous pranks a mystery still,
Lest glaring day should do their secrets ill.
Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of NATURE OBSCURA: A City’s Hidden Natural World, coming Spring 2020 from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, ParentMap, National Wildlife Magazine and others. On the side she writes fiction.
Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.
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