Liberal Arts Blog — Dragon Fly Epiphany — Wow!
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Today’s Topic: Dragon Fly Epiphany — Wow!
She wore a silver necklace with a cross. But this cross was different. She was a young, uniformed US Park Service volunteer manning the cash register at the gift shop at the Minute Man National Park in Concord. I can’t remember her name, although she wore a badge. There was something wrapped around the cross and it wasn’t Jesus. I wasn’t sure what it was. So I asked. And she told me it was a dragon fly. Her father had died four years ago and the dragon fly was a little memento. You see, her father loved boating on the river and whenever he went out a dragon fly would hitch a ride on the front of his boat. She pointed out that she also had dragon flies on her sneakers. And everyone in her family did the same. Her siblings. Her mother. Her cousins. Her aunts and uncles. Some things you just can’t make up.
Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE POETRY OF DRAGON FLIES — JAPAN, ENGLAND
1. Basho (1644–1694): “Crimson pepper pod / add two pairs of wings, and look / darting dragonfly”
2. Hori Bakusui (1718–1783): “Dyed he is with the / Color of autumnal days, / O red dragonfly.”
3. Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) “An inner impulse rent the veil / Of his old husk: from head to tail / Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.”
NB: HE Bates (1907–1974) “I saw, once, an endless procession, just over an area of water lilies, of small sapphire dragonflies, a continuous plat of blue gauze over the snowy flowers above the sun-glassy water. It was all confined, in true dragonfly fasihion, to one small space. It was continuously turning and returning, an endless darting, poising, striking and hovering so swift it was often lost in sunlight.”
THE ART OF BUTTERFLIES — from Ancient Egypt to Zuni to Art Nouveau
1. The above dragon fly amulet dates from the Middle Kingdom, 1981 to 1640 BC.
2. Many Native American tribes consider dragonflies to be medicine animals that had special powers. For example, the southwestern tribes, including the Pueblo, Hopi, and Zuni, associated dragonflies with transformation. They referred to dragonflies as “snake doctors” because they believed dragonflies followed snakes into the ground and healed them if they were injured. For the Navajo dragonflies symbolize pure water. Often stylized in a double-barred cross design, dragonflies are a common motif in Zuni pottery, as well as Hopi rock art and Pueblo necklaces.”
3. “Images of dragonflies are common in Art Nouveau, especially in jewellery designs.They have also been used as a decorative motif on fabrics and home furnishings. Douglas, a British motorcycle manufacturer based in Bristol, named its innovatively designed postwar 350-cc flat-twin model the Dragonfly.”
FOOTNOTE — First scientifically accurate drawing of a butterfly: Moses Harris (1731–1785)
1. Published in the “Aurelian History or Natural History of English Insects” (1780)
2. Never confuse an odontologist (teeth guy) from an odonatologist (butterfly guy).
3. Dragonflies are fierce predators whose nymphal phase can last up to four years and whose adult life spans can last only a few days or weeks.
NB: Extremely agile fliers: can generate lift in four different ways, can propel themselves in six different directions and “can travel at 100 body-lengths per second in forward flight, and three lengths per second backwards.” They are also capable of “motion camouflage” and other feats of derring-do. See link below for the amazing story of the butterfly.
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#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Please share the coolest thing you learned recently or ever related to art, sculpture, design, architecture, film, or anything visual.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. And to cement in your own memory something cool or important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that is close to your heart.