Death of the Moth: A Requiem

[Dedicated to the fiery, undying spirit of the phenomenal modernist author Virginia Woolf (January 25, 1882-March 28, 1941)]

‘They are hybrid creatures, neither gay like butterflies nor somber like their own species. Nevertheless the present specimen, with his narrow hay-colored wings, fringed with a tassel of the same color, seemed to be content with life.’

–The Death of the Moth (1942)


Afloat, buoyant, aren’t we all?

Hybrid creatures swinging between

The protruding light of the day and the curtain call of the night?


The moth, fluttering from side to side,

Vociferous being, friend of the windowpane devouring

Inch by inch, moment by moment—the transient energy of the fast-fading earth.


Afloat, buoyant, aren’t we all?

Tiny, mystic sentinels of the greater will

In our arms and wings, carrying the microcosm of our awkward failure.


The moth, a ‘pure bead of light’ dances faintly

In puerile passion to fight back death’s enormity.

In an hour or so, it lies, ‘unfailingly composed’, in the inevitable arms of death.


Afloat, buoyant, aren’t we all?

Our instinctive game of survival, and perishing

Garnished with futile, unthinking attempts, examining our chances against death.


In the death of the moth, our imminent, oncoming doom marches in.

Death swinging its fatal strike, our purest, elemental antagonist barges in.

Lopamudra Banerjee is an author, poet, translator, editor with seven books and five anthologies in fiction and poetry. She has been a recipient of the Journey Awards (First Place category winner) for her memoir ‘Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey’, the International Reuel Prize for Poetry (2017) and International Reuel Prize for her English translation of Nobel Laureate Tagore’s selected works of fiction (2016). Her poetry has also been published in renowned platforms including ‘Life in Quarantine’, the Digital Humanities Archive of Stanford University. She has been a Featured Poet at Rice University, Houston in November 2019. Her recent publication ‘Bakul Katha: Tale of the Emancipated Woman’, her English translation of Ashapurna Devi’s award-winning Bengali novel ‘Bakul Katha’ has received Honorable Mention at London Book Festival 2022.


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