Book excerpt: Butterflies

We missed a Sunday book excerpt, so today we will feature a snippet from two authors, each about butterflies — because today happens to be another cool rainy day in Southern California — winter here could pass for spring in harsher climates.

The first excerpt is a poem by Robert Frost, “Blue-Butterfly Day” that pauses over abundant butterflies in a freshly-plowed muddy field:

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.

The second excerpt is from the chapter “Flies and Spiders” in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Bilbo has been shooed up a tree in Mirkwood Forest to see what he can see, and what he sees is leaves and spiders and butterflies:

In the end [Bilbo] poked his head above the roof of leaves, and then he found spiders all right. But they were only small ones of ordinary size, and they were after the butterflies. Bilbo’s eyes were nearly blinded by the light. He could hear the dwarves shouting up at him from far below, but he could not answer, only hold on and blink. The sun was shining brilliantly, and it was a long while before he could bear it. When he could, he saw all round him a sea of dark green, ruffled here and there by the breeze; and there were everywhere hundreds of butterflies. I expect they were a kind of “purple emperor’, a butterfly that loves the tops of oak-woods, but these were not purple at all, they were a dark dark velvety black without any markings to be seen.