The Pleasure of Flying Crooked

A Cabbage butterfly....

A Cabbage butterfly….

April is not just  “the cruelest month” (according to T. S. Eliot.) And it’s not just the “Oh-to-be-in-England” month (according to Robert Browning….) It’s also National Poetry Month ( according to whoever names these things.) In honor of NaPoMo, I offer up this poem by Robert Graves. It’s not just about how a butterfly flies, but how poems and poets do.


The butterfly, a cabbage-white

(His honest idiocy of flight)

Will never now, it is too late,

Master the art of flying straight,

Yet has – who knows so well as I?-

A  just sense of how not to fly:

He lurches here and here by guess

And God and hope and hopelessness.

Even the acrobatic swift

Has not his flying-crooked gift.



My advice this month if you’re just starting out with poetry? Lurch a little. Come at the world hiccup by hiccup, fly sideways, fly crooked. It’s a gift.

5 responses to “The Pleasure of Flying Crooked

  1. Recommend the blog Issa’s Untidy Hut…great introduction to Haiki poetry..accompanied by photos and illustrations.

  2. Oh thank-you! I never knew this poem before and I am obsessed with butterflies!

  3. That is my approach to everything! thanks for finding the words to share.

  4. This poem is a little master class in how the metrical pattern — here, tetrameter couplets — dances with the cadence of the sentence. This is form following function, yes, but it’s also form as function. Glorious!

    –Steven Withrow

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