The Butterfly, Robert A. Sieczkiewicz
Tender butterfly lights from place to place,
Seeking a natural beauty of grace,
Fluttering excitement seeing thy face,
Choosing thou radiant heart to embrace.
Give care when handling this tender creature,
For thou has the power to enrapture,
As would any Beethoven overture,
Mesmerize and make easy its capture.
Although shy will be always at your call.
No wish be denied, whether big or small.
Thy must decide for winter will not stall.
If answer nay will fly with others all.
Helena of such beauty be my wife,
For no other can fill my empty life.
Winslow Homer painted this oil sketch in 1872. By its content it is obvious that his feelings for Helena de Kay was more than a passing fancy. Two items in the painting that where focused on when I wrote this poem. Here we seen the fan is spread telling us that the painting is about love. The other item is the butterfly which is lighting on her. You can image the thoughts running through her head. The butterfly is Homer’s heart. He wants to give his heart to her, but the big question will she take it? She doesn’t of course because history tells us he never married, becoming an antisocial recluse.
The second stanza was developed based on one of Winslow’s letters to Helena. Another point of interest is there have been those who believe that Helena’s mother was instrumental in Winslow not winning the heart of Helena.
Homer did another painting after The Butterfly, titled Summer Afternoon. I call your attention to the fan. It now closed and hanging from her wrist. This is the white flag of surrender. With outstretched arms is probably symbolic that she is free to fly where ever she would like to be. She did, flying into the arms of Richard Watson Gilder.