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Happiness: Found

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A life-long lover of words, symbolism, and poetry, I became captivated with the concept of found poems about seven years ago when developing a class assignment. However, I grew to appreciate these poetic collages even more when trying to write myself. Crafting these poems is a linguistic jigsaw. I love finding scraps of language (quotes, lines from non-fiction texts, etc.) and fusing them together to create a new piece.

This particular found poem is symbolic on many levels. Shortly after our engagement, I began to draft a poem about our butterfly motif. But I struggled with the format and words. The butterfly metamorphosis and symbolism seemed rather—okay, very—trite. Looking to my favorite butterfly quotes for inspiration, it dawned on me that this was the perfect situation for a found poem. The search and selection of text, reflection, and patience involved in this writing process reminded me of all the pieces that aligned when I met Matt. So, I began to research, reflect, and dissect snippets of text. Sure enough, stanzas emerged...unveiling a poem that describes the new happiness Matt and I have found.

A butterfly lands on Sarah's hand at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum in Lincoln Park, July 15, 2012

Happiness: Found

We are all butterflies,
waiting
to transform.
Caterpillars,
crawling
(and hiding)
under leaves.

But [we] know it’s time to shed [our] skin
when the risk to remain the same
is greater than the risk to change.

It takes strength
to push against the chrysalis’ hard shell
until it cracks.
Some take a few months—
or even years—
to become,
choose to use wings,
fly.

But butterflies count not months,
but moments.
[We] will awaken in our own time...
flowers that
drift in color
illuminating spring,
and all but sing.
Pleasing wherever we alight.

Happiness is…
a butterfly.

Sketchbook notes for butterfly poem

Sketchbook notes for butterfly poem

Here’s a glimpse into the process of found poems. While a true found poem strictly adheres to the word (in tense, agreement, punctuation, etc.), I have used some poetic license with this piece ;).

We are all butterflies,
waiting

We are all butterflies waiting to happen.” (author unknown)

to transform

“Like the butterfly, I have the strength and hope to believe, in time I will emerge from my cocoon...transformed.” (Kirsti A. Dyer, MD)

Caterpillars,
crawling
(and hiding)
under leaves.

Some caterpillars crawl to the ground and hide under leaves” (How Does a Caterpillar Become a Butterfly? Melissa Stewart)

But we know it’s time to shed our skin

“Finally, the young insect knows it’s time to shed its exoskeleton” (Stewart)

when the risk to remain the same
is greater than the risk to change.

“And the day came when the risk to remain the same was greater than the risk to change...It is, after all, the only hope for the cocoon to become the butterfly.” (author unknown)

 

It takes strength
to push against the chrysalis’ hard shell
until it cracks.

“The butterfly pushes against the hard shell until it cracks.” (Stewart)

Some take a few months—
or even years—
to become,

“Some pupae take just a few days to go through all the changes, but others need a few weeks, months, or even years to become butterflies.” (Stewart)

choose to use wings,

“No one can do it for you; choose to use your wings.” (author unknown)
“‘How does one become a butterfly? she asked. ‘You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.’” (Trina Paulus)

fly.

“ ‘How does one become a butterfly? she asked. ‘You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.’” (Trina Paulus)

 

 

But butterflies count not months,
but moments.

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” (Rabindranath Tagore)

We will awaken in our own time…

“Just like the butterfly, I will awaken in my own time.” (Deborah Chaskin)

flowers that
drift in color
illuminating spring,

Flowers and butterflies drift in color, illuminating spring.” (author unknown)

and all but sing.

“But these are .flowers that fly and all but sing.” (Robert Frost)

Pleasing wherever we alight.

“Love is like a butterfly: it goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes.”  (author unknown)

Happiness is…
a butterfly.

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

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