Der Wasserpapillon

Groundhog Day. At the risk of starting a new tradition, I removed this overwintering dragonfly nymph from the refrigerator, set it on the counter under the window, let it see its shadow in the bright sunshine of this clear winter day.

By odd happenstance, I picked up an old book, A Study of Goethe by Brian Fairly, and in the first few pages came across this dragonfly poem which contains the surprising metaphor of a dragonfly being a water-butterfly. So I looked up the entire poems and translated it.

Die Freuden

Da flattert um die Quelle
Die wechselnde Libelle,
Der Wasserpapillon,
Bald dunkel und bald helle,
Wie ein Chamäleon;
Bald rot und blau, bald blau und grün.
O daß ich in der Nähe
Doch seine Farben sähe!

Da fliegt der Kleine vor mir hin
Und setzt sich auf die stillen Weiden.
Da hab’ ich ihn, da hab’ ich ihn!
Und nun betracht’ ich ihn genau,
Und seh’ ein traurig dunkles Blau.

So geht es dir, Zergliedrer deiner Freuden!
(written 1767-69)


Fluttering over the pool
the ever-changeful dragonfly,
a water-butterfly,
sometimes dark, sometimes bright,
like a chameleon.
If only I might have a closer look
and view its true colors.

The little thing flies past
and lands on the quiet grass.
There, I have him in my net. I've got him!
But examining the dragonfly closely I find
its color to be a sorrowful dark blue.

So it is, for all you dissectors of joy!

Goethe was, without doubt, one of the great observers of the natural world. An early poem by Goethe and an adaption of a French poem about the damage done to the beauty of butterflies when handled, the choice of changing the subject from a butterfly to a dragonfly suggests he’s observed dragonflies closely, even perhaps having held them in hand. The problem with this switch is that a dragonfly’s appearance isn’t harmed by being handled, it doesn’t have powdery scales on its wings that can be rubbed off. Instead Goethe isolates the difference in observing a living dragonfly in flight against the static up-close observation of a captive insect. There’s some truth to his perspective, but most often I’m astonished by the colors, the patterns, the detail in the eyes, abdomen, and wing venation that is only visible when the dragonfly is caught in a photograph or held up close to the eye.

Publicado el febrero 3, 2017 04:58 MAÑANA por scottking scottking


Fotos / Sonidos




Febrero 2, 2017 a las 05:56 TARDE CST


Dot-tailed Whiteface
overwintering nymph
collected at a private pond and is being reared to confirm identification
Northfield, Minnesota


Ausgezeichnet:) Sehr schön!

Publicado por nbdragonflyguy hace más de 7 años

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