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  • Rebecca Drew

Dragonflies Again: Les Libellules Encore

Today's article features a French-to-English translation of an excerpt from Les Libellules de Québec by Adrien Robert. Even though this was a work based on science, it was created for the Ministry of Tourism in Québec, so there is a bit of artistry flowing through the detailed diagrams of dragonflies and damselflies.

Agrion Damselfly sketch
Sketch of an Agrion Damselfly: Les Libellules du Québec

I was particularly struck by this paragraph on page 4 regarding the Agrion, a banded damselfly:


Original French Text:

L'Agrion ne fait pas que manger; il pare la nature de sa beauté resplendissante. Il faut visiter les sous-bois où originent et grossissent les ruisseaux pour comprendre l'élément de beauté qu'apporte l'Agrion dans un paysage sylvestre. Tantôt, perché sur une feuille, il se laisse dorloter par les chauds rayons du soleil, tantôt il s'ébat comme la poule qui veut éprouver ses ailes. A l'approche d'un compagnon, il se montre hostile, le fixe du regard, et se hisse avec rapidité dans les airs, dévisage un moment son comparse, puis soudain, le quitte à l'improviste; combat d'un instant où il n'y a ni vaincu ni vainqueur, mais parité de décor et de splendeur, parité d'agilité et de vélocité.


English Translation:

The Agrion doesn't just eat; he adorns nature of its resplendent beauty. One has to visit the undergrowth where streams originate and grow to understand the element of beauty that the Agrion brings to a sylvan landscape. Sometimes, perched on a leaf, it lets itself be pampered by the hot rays of the sun, sometimes it frolics like the hen who wants to test her wings. At the approach of a companion, he is hostile, stares at him, and pulls himself up quickly in the air, stares at his sidekick for a moment, then suddenly leaves him unexpectedly; instant combat when there is neither loser nor winner, but parity of decor and splendor, parity of agility and speed.


Anyone who has spent time gazing at these marvels of nature can understand this sentiment. The author further shares such thoughts on page 5:


Original French Text:

Chaque année, le naturaliste épris de coloris et de grâce peut voir évoluer avec reconnaissance ces gentilles creatures, don de l'Auteur de la Vie.


English Translation:

Every year, the naturalist in love with color and grace can see with gratitude these nice creatures, gift of the Author of Life.


The excerpts from this 1960's publication remind us to admire the sheer beauty of dragonflies and damselflies, rather than getting lost in the facts, yet plenty of scientific detail is provided for those searching for these beloved insects. The link to the original article, and as well as the book itself, can be found here.


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