A unique anthology of poems–from around the world and through the ages–that celebrate the gloriously diverse insect world.
Given that insects vastly outnumber us–there are approximately 200 million insects for every human–it is no surprise that there is a long and rich body of verse on the creeping, scuttling, stinging things with which we share our planet. Many cultures have centuries-old traditions of insect verse. In China–where noblewomen of the Tang dynasty kept crickets in gold cages–countless songs were written in praise of these “insect musicians.” The haiku masters of Japan composed thousands of poems about crickets, grasshoppers, cicadas, fireflies, dragonflies, and butterflies, along with such less prepossessing bugs as houseflies, fleas, and mosquitoes. In the West, poems about insects date back to the ancient Greek collection known as the Garland, and in later centuries, insects feature frequently in British and European works from the Elizabethan period onward. The poets collected here range from Donne, Keats, and Wordsworth to Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Christina Rossetti, and from Tu Fu, Xi Chuan, Ivan Turgenev, and Victor Hugo to E. E. Cummings, Elizabeth Bishop, Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, Mary Oliver, and Kevin Young. Bees, butterflies, and beetles, cockroaches and caterpillars, fireflies and dragonflies, ladybugs and glowworms–the miniature creatures that adorn these pages are as varied as the poetic talents that celebrate them.