The Butterfly

The Butterfly

By Pavel Friedmann

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone…
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ‘way up high.
It went away I’m sure because it wished to
kiss the world goodbye.
For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found my people here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here,
In the ghetto.

Summary of The Butterfly

  • Popularity of “The Butterfly”: “The Butterfly” by Pavel Friedmann, a great Jewish Czech poet, is a sad poem. It was published in his book, INever Saw Another Butterfly, published in 1959. He wrote this beautiful poem when he was imprisoned in the Terezin Concentration Camp in former Czechoslovakia. It shows the speaker’s sadness forced to live away from the bounties of nature. Although the poem captures the writer’s personal experience, how he expresses his concern makes this poem interesting and enchanting.
  • “The Butterfly” As a Representative of Hopelessness: The poem presents the speaker’s dismay. It begins with the description of an eye-catching butterfly he spots in his surroundings. The butterfly’s bright color and free flight inspire the speaker as he himself is unable to enjoy the fruits of freedom. As the poem continues, he informs the readers that it has been seven weeks since he has stayed at the same place. Although he finds his community and other things of beauty in that place, yet he never sees another butterfly. Perhaps this butterfly is the last to visit the ghetto. He further says that butterflies do not live here, implying that only those hit by hard luck visit them.
  • Major Themes in “The Butterfly”: Freedom versus imprisonment and sadness are the major themes of the poem. The speaker of the poem is a prisoner who seems moved by the free movement of the butterfly. The only butterfly in the ghetto symbolizes the hope for freedom as the writer says that he has never spotted such a beautiful butterfly in the ghetto. Therefore, the arrival of this tiny colorful creature gives him hope that one day he will also say goodbye to this dark, dull and unhealthy place. Through this simple poem, the writer provides a lasting lesson that one should not get hopeless. We should always look for the bright future.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Butterfly”

literary devices are modes to mold tone and meanings in a poem. With the help of these devices, the writers artistically connect the readers with their ideas, emotions, and feelings. The analysis of the devices used in the poem is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ and /o/ in “But I have found my people here” and again the sound of /e/ in “Butterflies don’t live in here.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ in “Such, such” and /t/, /l/ in “The last, the very last.”
  3. Allusion: Allusion is a belief and an indirect reference of a person, place, thing or idea of a historical, cultural, political or literary significance. Pavel Friedmann alludes to battle a person is facing due to imprisonment such as;

“And the white chestnut candles in the court.”
Only I never saw another butterfly.

  1. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /r/ in “So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow” and the sound of /n/ in “And the white chestnut candles in the court.”
  2. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example:

“Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone…
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ‘way up high.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Pavel Friedmann has used imagery in this poem such as “And the white chestnut candles in the court”, “That butterfly was the last one,” and “For seven weeks I’ve lived in here.”
  2. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. Pavel Friedmann has used situational irony in the last lines where he shows disappointment upon seeing the last butterfly such as;” That butterfly was the last one.”
  3. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poem shows hopelessness and sadness as extended metaphors to show how the writer becomes sad when finding the butterfly.
  4. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. The poet has personified sun in the poem such as;

“Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone.”

  1. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. The poem shows the use of the symbols of sadness, hopelessness and despair just to show the worry of the speaker.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Butterfly”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction and Tone: The poem shows descriptive diction but a tragic and sorrowful tone.
  2. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are seventeen lines in this poem with no stanza break.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “The Butterfly” are useful to quote while talking about the people living far from the blessings of natural world.

Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here,
In the ghetto.”

 

Post navigation