Butterflies and Homo sapiens

Anne Kilmer viceroy at gate.net
Tue Sep 9 12:43:52 EDT 1997

Patrick Roper wrote:
> Maybe subscribers to LEPS list who have been debating whether humans are
> higher species that insects would like to consider the little poem by
> Emily Dickinson written well over one hundred years ago:-
>         The Butterfly upon the Sky
>         The Butterfly upon the sky,
>         That doesn't know its Name
>         And hasn't any tax to pay
>         And hasn't any Home
>         Is just as high as you and I,
>         And higher, I believe,
>         So soar away and never sigh
>         And that's the way to grieve -
> Since she would appear to be referring to an unnamed species it would
> clearly be necessary to collect voucher specimens (for more literally
> minded readers I must point out that I am being ironic here).
> Finally, can anyone explain why she switched at the end to a comment about
> grieving?
> Patrick Roper
> --
> South View, Churchland Lane, Sedlescombe, East Sussex TN33 0PF, UK
> Telephone: +44 (0) 1424 870208  Fax: +44 (0) 1424 870208
> Mobile: 0468 474936  Email:proper at dial.pipex.com

I refer you to the Greek Psyche, or soul. Emily is alluding, I think, to 
the notion that the soul, a butterfly, leaves the body for bliss, and 
that therefore we should rejoice in the same manner at the release of 
our friends. And, of course, our selves. 

Mark Twain, another savant, once remarked, "Man is the only animal which 
blushes ... or needs to."

If we are indeed superior to the animals, why can't we behave better, 
huh, huh? 
And that's a can of worms which is definitely not lepidopterous. 
Anne Kilmer
South Florida

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