Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1622. The Butterfly
 
By Alice Archer (Sewall) James
 
 
I AM not what I was yesterday,
    God knows my name.
I am made in a smooth and beautiful way,
    And full of flame.
 
The color of corn are my pretty wings,        5
    My flower is blue.
I kiss its topmost pearl, it swings
    And I swing too.
 
I dance above the tawny grass
    In the sunny air,        10
So tantalized to have to pass
    Love everywhere
 
O Earth, O Sky, you are mine to roam
    In liberty.
I am the soul and I have no home,—        15
    Take care of me.
 
For double I drift through a double world
    Of spirit and sense;
I and my symbol together whirled
    From who knows whence?        20
 
There ’s a tiny weed, God knows what good,—
    It sits in the moss.
Its wings are heavy and spotted with blood
    Across and across.
 
I sometimes settle a moment there,        25
    And I am so sweet,
That what it lacks of the glad and fair
    I fill complete.
 
The little white moon was once like me;
    But her wings are one.        30
Or perhaps they closëd together be
    As she swings in the sun.
 
When the clovers close their three green wings
    Just as I do,
I creep to the primrose heart of things,        35
    And close mine, too.
 
And then wide opens the candid night,
    Serene and intense;
For she has, instead of love and light,
    God’s confidence.        40
 
And I watch that other butterfly,
    The one-winged moon,
Till, drunk with sweets in which I lie,
    I dream and swoon.
 
And then when I to three days grow,        45
    I find out pain.
For swift there comes an ache,—I know
    That I am twain.
 
And nevermore can I be one
    In liberty.        50
O Earth, O Sky, your use in done,
    Take care of me.
 

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