“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”

Charles Darwin – The Autobiography (1809 – 82)

The wonder of nature expressed in a few verses of poetry can enhance our appreciation for the natural world. It can arouse a myriad of feelings, ranging from a sense of joy; to that of grief, excitement and curiosity. It can also pose meaningful questions that make us think of the interconnection of life and of  the plight of our own existence.  ‘The poetry of the earth is never dead,’ exclaimed the poet John Keats on hearing a grasshopper sing.

However, most people can’t look at any kind of insect or see their beauty but would rather revile them as pests that must be dealt with. I know of many photographers who will freeze insects just so that they can have more control over their macro shots! We would do well to remember that insects are living organisms and that their well-being should come before any photographic consideration:

Hurt no living thing;
Ladybird, nor butterfly,
Nor moth with dusty wing,
Nor cricket chirping cherrily,
Nor grasshopper so light of leap,
Nor dancing gnat, nor beetle fat,
Nor harmless worms that creep.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

I hope you enjoy this collection of some of my favourite poems dedicated to the beauty of insects.

The Poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,—he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

John Keats
On the Grasshopper and Cricket (1816)

Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro’ crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.

Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Dragonfly (1833)

Stay near me—do not take thy flight!
A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find I thee,
Historian of my infancy !
Float near me; do not yet depart!
Dead times revive in thee:
Thou bring’st, gay creature as thou art!
A solemn image to my heart,
My father’s family!

Oh! pleasant, pleasant were the days,
The time, when, in our childish plays,
My sister Emmeline and I
Together chased the butterfly!
A very hunter did I rush
Upon the prey:—with leaps and spring
I followed on from brake to bush;
But she, God love her, feared to brush
The dust from off its wings.

William Wordsworth
To A Butterfly (1888)

Little Fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want 
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die

William Blake
The Fly (1794)

HOW doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower.

How skilfully she builds her cell; 
How neat she spreads her wax,
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.

In works of labor or of skill,
I would be busy too; 
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.

In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed;
That I may give for every day 
Some good account at last.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
‘How doth the little busy bee’

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry,
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk,
Or what not,
Which may be the chosen spot.
No toad spy you,
Hovering bird of prey pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Walt Whitman
A Noiseless Patient Spider (1891)

Isled in the midnight air,
Musked with the dark’s faint bloom,
Out into glooming and secret haunts
The flame cries, ‘Come!’

Lovely in dye and fan,
A-tremble in shimmering grace,
A moth from her winter swoon
Uplifts her face:

Stares from her glamorous eyes;
Wafts her on plumes like mist;
In ecstasy swirls and sways
To her strange tryst.

Walter de la Mare
The Moth (1919)

Ladybird, you’re very neat
From tiny head to little feet,
I like your coat of red and black,
I like your clean and shining back.
Do you polish it each night
To make it shine so gay and bright,
Or do you keep a tiny fay
Who rubs it up for you each day?
Beneath your shiny back there lie
The gauzy wings with which you fly,
You’re spreading them – oh please don’t go,
There’s such a lot I want to know.
Your house is burning, do you say?
Ah, well, of course, you mustn’t stay!

Enid Blyton
The Ladybird (1934)
Copywrite info: All images on this page are the copywrite of Alex McCarthy and the poems are all in the public domain.  WildlifeMacro.com does not sell any goods and no money is involved, aside from hosting and domain fees.