What Is the Theme of “My Butterfly” by Robert Frost?

Robert Frost’s poem “My Butterfly” draws a parallel between a butterfly the narrator is mourning the death of and the author himself, focusing on the joyfulness he felt the summer he first saw the butterfly to the sorrow he feels after the butterfly’s death. Frost’s agnostic beliefs present themselves in the text.

“My Butterfly” tells the sorrow felt by the speaker over the death of a butterfly he had seen the previous summer. The butterfly which once inspired joy and magic in the speaker now leaves the speaker to question Fate and God as the forces which rule the cosmos.

Frost asks, “And didst thou think who tottered maundering on high/ Fate had not made thee for the pleasure of the wind/ With those great careless wings?” He continues on to say that “It seemed God let thee flutter from his gentle clasp/ Then fearful he had let thee win/ Too far beyond him to be gathered in/ Snatched thee, o’er eager, with ungentle grasp.” While Fate let the butterfly attain great height, God’s envy snatched its life away.

The parallel Frost draws between the butterfly and himself suggests Frost’s own dissatisfaction and sorrow. While just the previous summer, the butterfly had “dizzied” him of thought, the magic of that summer has passed. With the death of the butterfly came a sober understanding of life. Like the butterfly that had flown too high, the poem suggests that Frost is re-evaluating his place in life.