Friday, May 4, 2012

Monarch's Lament

    Monarch's Lament

            Last night, I dreamed that I conversed with a Monarch butterfly. How beautiful it was, and how bitter! This is what it sang:           

                        Bitter my life and bitter my death;
                        Bitter my food and bitter my flesh!

            Yet it sang so sweetly! 
            I wondered why, so I pursued it, calling out, "Beautiful bug, what ails you?"
            The Monarch replied:

                        Milkweed! Milkweed! All I can eat!
                        How I love its vile flavor!
                        How deep I drank its toxic sap!
                        Are not my wings beautiful?
                        Are they not bright and attractive?
                        But why do the birds all shy away?
                        Why do they seek plainer bugs to snap up?
                        Perhaps they do not find me to their taste?
                        My wings say poison, my wings say death;
                        Bright and vivid, my wings say do not eat.
                        Bitter my life and bitter my death;
                        Bitter my food and bitter my flesh!

            I said, "By diet, you defend yourself from diet;
            So what, O beautiful bug, is your complaint?"

            The Monarch said:
                        You think me beautiful? Birds think me hideous!

            I said, "I would catch you and stick you on a pin,
                        you're so beautiful."

            The Monarch replied:
                        But riddle me this, O Ape of Wisdom:
                        Are you a man dreaming of a talking butterfly,
                        or am I a butterfly dreaming of a talking man?

            And I suddenly knew that the insect was right!
            "This is a dream!" I cried, and I started to waken.
            The Monarch Butterfly fluttered up higher and higher, beyond my grasp. Rising, it sang:

                        Sweet my flesh and sweet my food
                        Sweet my death and sweet my life!

            The butterfly escaped, the dream ended, and I awoke, shouting, "It lied to me!"

            For I had realized too late that the bug was a counterfeit! It wasn't a real Monarch butterfly; it was instead the toxic Monarch's merely foul-tasting imitator, the Viceroy!

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