Comparing the Two Versions of A Butterfly by William Wordsworth

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Comparing the Two Versions of A Butterfly by William Wordsworth William Wordsworth wrote two versions of the poem "To A Butterfly," one in March, the other in April. In reading the poems, the situation presented is obviously the same, only interpreted differently and reflected differently. As Wordsworth himself said about poetry: it is "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till by a species of reaction the tranquillity gradually disappears." Both versions of the poem are about the memory that the sight of a butterfly brings back, not so much a memory but a feeling the poet gets upon seeing this butterfly. In the first version of the poem the Wordsworth wrote, which I will call the "March" poem, the poet begs the butterfly to stay a while, and not to fly away. He is not calm, but almost desperate to have it stay. The phrasing of the first two lines of the poem seem to imply the inevitable disappearance of the creature, which to me is illustrated when he says "do not take thy flight" instead of "do not take flight" or "do not fly away." The next two lines seem to personify the butterfly, for to the poet, the butterfly tells a story from his past. He finds that the creature "talks" to him, as a "historian of [his] infancy." The butterfly revives "dead times" in him, memories past. The two lines that follow (7-8) talk about the paradox the butterfly brings, the fact that such a "gay creature" can put such a "solemn image" into his heart. The memories that the butterfly brings with it are not happy, carefree memories, but ones laden with the passage of time and all the woes that come with time. From lines 10 to 18 the p... ... middle of paper ... ...ftly sentimental last two lines about his sister. In the March poem, he gives very little detail about his current surroundings, but describes the motions of the young children and their surroundings carefully. In the April poem, however, all the detail is given to the current time and place, and no specifics at all to "summer days." In the March poem, the poem is the thoughts that the vision of the butterfly revives in the poet, in the April poem, he examines the butterfly then speaks to it in the next stanza. I prefer the March poem, if only for the mood. I think that the April poem is less awkward in leading from one thought to the next, but it seems a bit frivolous to me, and almost forced, where the emotion of the March poem seems stronger. If poetry is "emotion recollected in tranquility," I believe the March poem does this better than the April poem.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how william wordsworth wrote two versions of "to a butterfly," one in march, the other in april. both versions are about the memory that the sight of a butterfly brings back.
  • Analyzes wordsworth's "march" poem, where the poet begs the butterfly to stay a while and not to fly away.
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