Friday, 18 April 2014

Walt Whitman - A Beard Full of Butterflies

"Not for a moment, beautiful aged Walt Whitman, have I failed to see your beard full of butterflies"
Federico Garcia Lorca

More beardy blogging, this time courtesy of two poets. I really liked the imagery the above quote by the Spanish poet Lorca about Whitman evokes. One poet to another. The American poet Walt Whitman had a love of animals and insects, butterflies in particular, using them as a recurring motif in his books. He was also fond of documenting himself by being photographed regularly, the image above from 1877 being one of his favourites, of a butterfly resting on his forefinger. It was claimed by some that the butterfly was a representation of Psyche - the poets soul. For years whilst he was alive Whitman liked to claim the photograph was an actual chance encounter with a real butterfly and play up his closeness to nature and animals. A closer inspection of the picture and his finger however, reveals a strap to hold the "butterfly" in place. It was only revealed after Whitman's passing that the actual "butterfly" in the picture, was in fact a mass produced card to celebrate Easter (pictured below). The words on the butterfly are from John Mason Neale's Easter Hymn.

Happy Easter readers.