A Peacock butterfly (Inachis io). Français : U...

Photo credit: Wikimedia

How beautiful is the hereafter
Painted in your dust.
Through the flaming core of the earth,
Through its stony shell,
You have been delivered,
Webs of farewell measuring transience.

Nightfall of all beings!
The weights of life and death
Sink with your wings
Down onto the rose
Wilting with the homewards-ripening  light.

How beautiful is the hereafter
Painted in your dust.
What royal symbol
In the secret of the air.


Welch schönes Jenseits
ist in deinen Staub gemalt.
Durch den Flammenkern der Erde,
durch ihre steinerne Schale
wurdest du gereicht,
Abschiedswebe in der Vergänglichkeiten Maß. 

aller Wesen gute Nacht!
Die Gewichte von Leben und Tod
senken sich mit deinen Flügeln
auf die Rose nieder
die mit dem heimwärts reifenden Licht welkt. 

Welch schönes Jenseits
ist in deinen Staub gemalt.
Welch Königszeichen
im Geheimnis der Luft.


2 thoughts on “Butterfly

  1. This poem “Butterfly” is an amazing poem. I tried to break it down and figure out what it really means. In the first paragraph, it says “Webs of farewell measuring transience”. I think that it’s saying that Nelly is saying goodbye to someone else, since it says farewell. I did some word research on the word transience. It means the state of not lasting long, or a short time. The poem is saying that someone died. In the second paragraph, it says “The weights of life and death sink with your wings”. I think that that means that she is being weighed down by the death of someone that they cared about. She watched so many people die, and she couldn’t do anything about it. Nelly Sachs lost people that she cared about, and she was weighed down by their death. That’s why I think that she wrote this poem, to express her feelings about the people that died in the Holocaust.

  2. She uses a lot of symbolism in this poem. The three main symbols that I see are butterfly, Earth, and fire. The butterfly symbolizes rebirth, resurrection, lightness, and overcoming struggles. That is what a butterfly does. It overcomes the struggles of being a caterpillar and becomes a beautiful butterfly. Earth symbolizes stability and foundation. Earth is seen as what holds everything together, because it is what our world has been built on. Fire symbolizes warmth, illumination, and purification. In some religions it is said to be the connection between the mortals and the gods. I think that the way the symbols were used very well in the poem in describing what she was trying to describe. I think that this was her life during the Holocaust.

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