Ode to an Odonate on Valentine’s Day

I’m stepping WAY outside my usual comfort zone for this post and trying my hand at a little poetry!  To the dragonfly Pantala flavescens (the wandering glider) on Valentine’s Day:

Pantala flavescens flying

Pantala flavescens (wandering glider) flying

Ode to an Odonate

Oh Pantala flavescens!
How your mighty wings
carry you on the wind,
taking you further than
most of your kind
can only dream,
wandering
and gliding
across continents
and vast oceans
and the field behind
the farmer’s house.
Your titanic eyes see
the tiny animals
on which you feast,
the air a veritable smorgasbord
of delicious delicacies
that you sample voraciously
until you’ve had your fill.

And, oh!
How happy
your circular unions,
living depictions of
the circle of life
to which you owe your existence,
as do we all.

Oh, Pantala flavescens,
scourge of biting insects,
our unsung and unappreciated
defender of humanity,
plucking us from the grips
of cold death
at the hands of pathogens,
expecting nothing
in return but satiety.
We salute you!

Long live Pantala flavescens!
Your beauty unsurpassed,
your habits alarming and pure,
your grandeur supreme
and everlasting.
Fly forever at
the edges of cool pools
across the lands,
and into the future.

Pantala flavescens

A wandering glider (Pantala flavescens)

This poem was inspired by a fabulous Valentine’s-themed Twitter campaign promoting biodiversity and conservation called Love Species.  If you wish to participate in their campaign too, it’s easy!  Visit the link above, find your favorite of the animals listed in the ARKive collection of images, and tell everyone on Twitter which is your favorite and why.  Makes sure to include the hashtag #lovespecies so that others will be able to find your favorites.  And if you don’t know what ARKive is, it’s worth browsing their site even if you don’t want to participate in Love Species!  The goal of ARKive is to document life on Earth by collecting the best wildlife photography and movies and archiving them.  They then publicly share these brilliant images in hope of inspiring people to appreciate and conserve the organisms that share our planet.  The organization has some really big names in biology, photography, film making, education, etc. supporting their efforts and the results are stunning.  ARKive is definitely worth a look!

I wanted to take Love Species a step further and declare my undying love for one of the species represented on ARKive for my Valentine’s Day post!  Valentine’s scream poetry to me, so it seemed appropriate to make my declaration in poetic form.  I used to write a lot of poems when I was a teenager (LOTS of poems – I needed something to do in all those study halls I was forced to sit through!), but I haven’t done it for a long time.  I also never shared my poems because, well, I don’t know why exactly.  I guess it made me nervous to think that someone else might read one and hate it.  To that end, to any of you sticklers who read my poem: please note that I am fully aware that my poem is not truly an ode because it doesn’t have the proper structure nor the correct (i.e. any!) rhyming scheme.  But how can anyone possibly pass up the chance to name their poem Ode to an Odonate?!  :)

I encourage everyone to publicly declare their love for a species!  There are so many ways you could do this too and you don’t certainly need to use Valentine’s as an excuse.  Write a blog post, buy a t-shirt with your favorite organism and wear it proudly, or post a fabulous photo you’ve taken to Flikr.  Just get it out there!   Love a species and share it with the world and maybe you’ll inspire others to do the same.

Happy Valentine’s to everyone!

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