The Quote Garden
 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Butterflies

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.   —ღ Terri, March 2021

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. ~Rabindranath Tagore

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish blessing

Butterflies are self propelled flowers. ~R.H. Heinlein

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies. ~Author unknown

The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity. ~Attributed to George Carlin

Butterflies dot springtime with flitting airy kisses. ~Terri Guillemets, "Spring flight & grounding," 2014

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. ~Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, 1977

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.
~Robert Frost, "Blue-Butterfly Day"

I saw a poet chase a butterfly in a meadow.  He put his net on a bench where a boy sat reading a book.  It's a misfortune that it is usually the other way round.  ~Karl Kraus

Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life.  And everyone deserves a little sunshine.  ~Jeffrey Glassberg

The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.
~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun

HAPPINESS.—A butterfly, which when pursued, seems always just beyond your grasp; but if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you. ~"A Chapter of Definitions," Daily Crescent, 1848 June 23rd

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.  ~Richard Buckminster Fuller

They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods.  ~Edith Wharton

With the rose the butterfly's deep in love,
A thousand times hovering round;
But round himself, all tender like gold,
The sun's sweet ray is hovering found...
~Heinrich Heine, "New Spring," 1826, translated from German in the original metre by Edgar Alfred Bowring

The butterfly long loved the beautiful rose,
      And flirted around all day;
      While round him in turn with her golden caress,
      Soft fluttered the sun's warm ray....
I know not with whom the rose was in love,
      But I know that I loved them all.
      The butterfly, rose, and the sun's bright ray,
      The star and the bird's sweet call.
~Heinrich Heine, "A New Spring," 1826, translated from German by Charles Godfrey Leland, Pictures of Travel, 1855

The bright butterfly was a poor lowly worm,
Creeping and crawling upon the ground,
But it wove a cocoon, or a web for its shroud,
And died in that soft, silken covering wound.
Then, after a sleep, the shell burst, and lo,
Wings and bright colors came forth in a day!
~Ouina (Cora L. V. Scott Richmond), given through her Medium "Water Lily," "Immortality," Ouina's Canoe, 1882

Love is like a butterfly:  It goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes.  ~Author Unknown

I've watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly!  Indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! - not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!
~William Wordsworth, "To a Butterfly"

One of my chief joys in porch life is studying the butterflies. There are numbers of them about every day, of lovely pastel shades, with their wings like painted silken paper, some golden like sunbeams that have suddenly taken wing, some brown like the dead leaves that flutter past them, some yellow like vivified primroses, some like the tawny tiger-lilies blooming beside the wall, some white as the star jasmine on the trellis, some with the flaming hues of sunset, and some like the pale dawn. ~Dorothy Scarborough, "Entomology on a Country Porch," From a Southern Porch, 1919

I only ask to be free.  The butterflies are free.  ~Charles Dickens

On the pink flower
there is a white butterfly —
whose spirit, I wonder?
~Japanese hokku translated to English, in Lafcadio Hearn, Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, 1904

The butterfly's attractiveness derives not only from colors and symmetry:  deeper motives contribute to it.  We would not think them so beautiful if they did not fly, or if they flew straight and briskly like bees, or if they stung, or above all if they did not enact the perturbing mystery of metamorphosis: the latter assumes in our eyes the value of a badly decoded message, a symbol, a sign.  ~Primo Levi

O wingèd brother on the harebell, stay—
Was God's hand very pitiful, the hand
That wrought thy beauty at a dream's demand?
      Yea, knowing I love so well the flowery way,
      He did not fling me to the world astray—
      He did not drop me to the weary sand,
      But bore me gently to a leafy land:
      Tinting my wings, He gave me to the day.

~Edwin Markham, "The Butterfly"

Flowers and butterflies drift in color, illuminating spring.  ~Author Unknown

We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.  ~Carl Sagan

This great purple butterfly,
In the prison of my hands,
Has a learning in his eye
Not a poor fool understands.
~William Butler Yeats, "Another Song of a Fool"

Idly afloat in the sunshine, butterflies look like flower-petals from some enchanted garden, possession motion and life, so that when they fall, instead of perishing, they take on a new, unearthly beauty that will not die. Or are they perchance the souls of flowers that faded yesterday, or the imperishable dreams we mortals cherish, too delicate to come true, but too lovely to be destroyed? ~Dorothy Scarborough, "Entomology on a Country Porch," From a Southern Porch, 1919

[N]ot quite birds, as they were not quite flowers, mysterious and fascinating as are all indeterminate creatures.  ~Elizabeth Goudge

My heart pulsates like butterflies on a fine day. ~Lorraine Skylark, September 2009 entry to The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden

The butterfly, a cabbage-white,
(His honest idiocy of flight)
Will never now, it is too late,
Master the art of flying straight.
~Robert Graves, "Flying Crooked"

The butterfly upon the sky, who doesn't know its name,
And hasn't any tax to pay, and hasn't any home,
Is just as high as you and I, and higher, I believe –
So soar away and never sigh, for that's the way to grieve.
~Emily Dickinson

And to my thinking as a lover of life, butterflies, soap-bubbles, and whatever is of their kind among men, know most of happiness. To see these light, foolish, delicate, mobile little souls flitting about — that moveth Zarathustra to tears and to song. ~Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), "Of Reading and Writing," Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, translated from the German by Alexander Tille, 1896

The ancients did well when they typified the soul as a butterfly! ~Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897

The green grass and happy skies
court the fluttering butterflies.
~Terri Guillemets

Know thyself!  A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly.  Whoever observes himself arrests his own development.  A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly.  ~Andre Gide

Do ye not comprehend that we are worms,
Born to bring forth the angelic butterfly
That flieth unto judgment without screen?
~Dante Alighieri

Bees sip honey from flowers and hum their thanks when they leave.
The gaudy butterfly is sure that the flowers owe thanks to him.
~Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds

Summer's gayest, brightest child! ~Henry Heavisides (1791–1870), "To a Butterfly"

Fluttering rover!... ever wild...
Lingering here and lingering there...
~Henry Heavisides (1791–1870), "To a Butterfly"

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.  ~Author Unknown

Go on, hitch a ride on the back of a butterfly.  There's no better way to fly.  ~Pat Monahan, Scott Michael Underwood, and James W. Stafford, "Get To Me"

Would that I might
always have the heart
of chasing butterflies!
~Japanese hokku translated to English, in Lafcadio Hearn, Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, 1904

The fluttering of a butterfly's wings can effect climate changes on the other side of the planet.  ~Paul Erlich

And the case of butterflies so rich it looks
As if all summer settled there and died.
~Philip Larkin, "Autumn"

Once I read a story about a butterfly in the subway, and today, I saw one.  It got on at 42nd, and off at 59th, where, I assume it was going to Bloomingdales to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake - as almost all hats are.  ~Nikolaus Laszlo, Nora Ephron, and Delia Ephron, You've Got Mail

A million butterflies rose up from South America,
All together, and flew in a gold storm toward Spain...
~Winfield Townley Scott, "Annual Legend"

Each sunshine-moment twinkles by
A white-winged, wandering butterfly...
~W.T., "Honeymoon Cottage," Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Arts, 1862 June 28th

In nature a repulsive caterpillar turns into a lovely butterfly.  But with humans it is the other way around:  a lovely butterfly turns into a repulsive caterpillar.  ~Anton Chekhov

Gray sail against the sky,
Gray butterfly!
Have you a dream for going.
Or are you the blind wind's blowing?
~Dana Burnet, "A Sail at Twilight"

The ephemeral butterfly will always dazzle an infantine imagination. ~Thomas Boylston Adams, 1799  [This wasn't written in the context of nature but a metaphor of man. —tg]

The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me.  I grow older.
~Li Po

This magnificent butterfly finds a little heap of dirt and sits still on it; but man will never on his heap of mud keep still.  ~Joseph Conrad

Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time.  ~Deborah Chaskin

Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,
Pale jade mountains fill your rustic windows.
I envy you, drunk with flowers,
Butterflies swirling in your dreams.
~Ch'ien Ch'i, translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Women, don't get a tattoo.  That butterfly looks great on your breast when you're twenty or thirty, but when you get to seventy, it stretches into a condor.  ~Billy Elmer

Where have those flowers and butterflies all gone
That science may have staked the future on?
He seems to say the reason why so much
Should come to nothing must be fairly faced.
~Robert Frost, "Pod of the Milkweed"

As for butterflies, I can hardly conceive of one's attending upon you; but to question the congruence of the complement is vain, if it exists.  ~Marianne Moore, "To a Steam Roller"

Butterflies, bees
our wingèd, happy friends
Oh, to dance in the air
and float on the breeze...
~Terri Guillemets

We must remain as close to the flowers, the grass, and the butterflies as the child is who is not yet so much taller than they are.  We adults, on the other hand, have outgrown them and have to lower ourselves to stoop down to them.  It seems to me that the grass hates us when we confess our love for it.  Whoever would partake of all good things must understand how to be small at times.  ~Friedrich Nietzsche

The tulip and the butterfly
Appear in gayer coats than I:
Let me be dressed fine as I will,
Flies, worms, and flowers exceed me still.
~Isaac Watts

We are closer to the ants than to butterflies.  Very few people can endure much leisure.  ~Gerald Brenan

Nerves and butterflies are fine - they're a physical sign that you're mentally ready and eager.  You have to get the butterflies to fly in formation, that's the trick.  ~Steve Bull

What is a butterfly? At best
He's but a caterpiller drest.
~Benjamin Franklin, 1739

The least thing upset him on the links.  He missed short putts because of the uproar of butterflies in the adjoining meadows.  ~P.G. Wodehouse

Grown-ups love figures.  When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters.  They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like?  What games does he love best?  Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand:  "How old is he?  How many brothers has he?  How much does he weigh?  How much money does his father make?"  Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943, translated from French

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.  ~Vita Sackville-West

I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.  ~Chuang Tzu

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Last saved 2021 May 11 Tue 21:04 PDT

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