Felicia Dorothea Hemans

25 September 1793 – 16 May 1835 / Liverpool, England

To A Butterfly Resting Upon A Skull

Creature of air and light,
Emblem of that which cannot die,
Wilt thou not speed thy flight,
To chase the south wind through the sunny sky?
What lures thee thus to stay,
With silence and decay,
Fix'd on the wreck of dull mortality?

The thoughts once chamber'd there
Have gather'd up their treasures and are gone:
Will the dust tell us where
They that have burst the prison-house are flown?
Rise, nursling of the day,
If thou wouldst trace their way;
Earth has no voice to make the secret known.

Who seeks the vanish'd bird
By the forsaken nest and broken shell?
Far hence he sings unheard,
Yet free and joyous, 'midst the woods to dwell.
Thou of the sunshine born,
Take the bright wings of morn;
Thy hope calls heavenward from yon ruin'd cell.
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