Thursday, 25 August 2011

Banded Demoiselles

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens), 25 June 2010.

These darting blue males flew in packs criss-crossing bank to bank, at
a place where the slow-moving stream prepares to round a bend. Between dances all would rest, each on its own plant stalk or blade of grass. In a still image they are too much as though pinned in a display case, mitigated in the first by the various aspects of flight in which each of the three damselflies has been caught - lending a sort of Muybridge motion to it, and in the second there is a chiasmus in the two pairs below left and upper right. Just as the half-seen iridescent blur of a passing kingfisher, their flight is conjured in memory by more allusive means, such as Hopkins' line "As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme". Only here damselflies rather than dragonflies (the distinction mainly lying in how they hold themselves when at rest: damselflies fold their wings over their body, dragonflies keep them outstretched; also, dragonflies have larger eyes that touch).

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