Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Economist is lured to moths again

Here's the cover at Concita's very moment
of triumph in the Eurovision Song Contest
For the second time in this blog's life, the moth has been chosen to illustrate the cover of The Economist, a famous weekly example of graphic art at its best. The subject is different but the imagery the same; not surprisingly it is the powerful and very long-standing image of 'the moth to the flame'.

This goes back to distant times, well before Portia's "Thus hath the candle singed the moth" in The Merchant of Venice, as an allegory of dangerous temptation - and of course it applies to the light-trapping which provides my material here. I'm glad to say, though, that like Portia's disappointed suitor Aragon, my moths depart alive (and unsinged).

It was only one moth back in August 2009.
I wrote to ask which species they'd used but
nobody replied
The other famous imagery involving moths is their role as clothing pests, which is even dignified by inclusion in the Sermon on the Mount: "Lay not up for yourself treasures upon Earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt." This implies, alarmingly, that there may not be moths in Heaven, but I am confident myself that only the very small number of guilty species - notably Tinolea bisselliella - will be excluded, which will be no great loss.

Quotations about the beauty and interest of moths are sadly harder to find, but I'll leave you with a very nice piece of imagery from Browning's poem, The Gondola. It reminds me of my Mum's 'butterfly kisses' which involve delicately brushing the recipient's cheek with your eyelashes. I'm glad to say that my tiny granddaughter appears to approve of these.

THE moth's kiss, first!
Kiss me as if you made me believe
You were not sure, this eve,
How my face, your flower, had pursed
Its petals up; so, here and there         
You brush it, till I grow aware
Who wants me...

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