The Allegorical Nature of Things

One curious butterfly, with wings slashed and scalloped like a mediæval doublet, had a blue eye painted at the corner of either under-wing. The eyes were almost perfect in design; the blue iris had a limpid clearness; the pupil was naturally traversed by a delicate gleam of light. It was painting — Nature painting with a brush of sunbeams, and the colors of ruby sunsets. Most of the delicate insects suggested beautiful things by their own beauty — the tints and honeyed hearts of myriad blossoms, the brilliancy of rosy clouds and infinitely azure skies, the flower-born fragrance that might be called the Ghost of Flowers, which lurks in the rustling folds of a fair lady’s robes.

…so I read in the shade of a mature sycamore. The pleasantly warm breezes betrayed the monstrous Matthew who had recently rolled by the region, prompting one to reflexively ponder the extremes of the natural world. One moment winds are blowing over one-hundred miles per hour, and the next presents a scene straight out of a fairytale. Thus contemplation has the ability to seize us by our senses when we manage to pry ourselves from keyboard and screen.

To engage in a more natural contemplation can be rather awe-inspiring after realising the world in which we inhabit. It has always been there, and has not simply disappeared in conjunction with the blossoming of its online counterpart. Of course, there is something to be said for breathing air from the outside as opposed to the all-too-commonly inhaled apartment miasma. Then there is the sun, no doubt alleviating various forms of depression and anxiety, warming us, and reminding us that we have a choice as regards our consumption of technology; and, if one can only manage to filter out the distant droning of the ever-present automobile, he can start to imagine in his mind what the better world of yesteryear must have been like.

Thus I found myself ignoring the nearby likelihoods of prowling West Indians and malevolent, governmental importations from the Mid-East, and rather focusing on our flora and fauna. Large, low-flying turkey vultures danced amidst the post-hurricane sea breezes, as a more numerous swarm of black vultures played at higher altitude; a soothing rustle of the sycamore’s leaves with the breezes helped to combat the sound of far off vehicles; and a little blue heron was foolishly in pursuit of a snowy egret mate. All of these stimuli felt like the beggings of some unspoken voice calling for the observer to not abandon nature for the unnatural.

But, of course, as is true for most all of us, these addictions of ours are now too deeply rooted to ignore for long. I fear it will not be many more minutes before I plunge myself back into the chaos of the present, though I long for the past. And, even in my readings from long ago, I am constantly reminded of today’s challenges via allegory:

But sometimes, too, they suggested fancies of a far less pleasant kind, especially the giant moths, with gross bodies and heavy wings. There was a death’s-head moth, that grim insect, dreaded by the English peasant, just as the praying mantis was feared by the sailors who first sailed the Spanish main. Its wings have the richness of costly funeral trappings; its back bears plainly painted, in the yellowish color of moldering bone, the hideous outlines of an eyeless and gibbering skull. To turn from this grotesque insect to the spiritually delicate butterflies of China and Japan was something of a relief.


Quotations taken from Butterfly Fantasies, Cincinnati Commercial, May 9th, 1876.

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Platalea Ajaja

A late-blooming naturalist, decadent romantic, and reactionary.

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