Would that I might always have the desire of chasing butterflies

From Lafcadio Hearn’s essay on butterflies in his collection Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, one of a number of haikus he includes:

Cho wo ou
Kokoro-mochitashi
Itsumademo!

[Would that I might always have the heart (desire) of chasing butterflies!*]

*Literally, “Butterfly-pursuing heart I wish to have always;”—i.e., I would that I might always be able to find pleasure in simple things, like a happy child.

It somehow reminded me of Lear’s speech in Act V (Scene 3, 3130ff):

No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison.
We two alone will sing like birds i’ th’ cage.
When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too-
Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out-
And take upon ‘s the mystery of things,
As if we were God’s spies; and we’ll wear out,
In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by th’ moon.

 

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