Fleur Adcock's title refers to the transparent, glittering wings of some of the species - bees, mosquitoes, dragonflies - celebrated or lamented in a sequence of poems on encounters with arthropods, from the stick insects and crayfish of her native New Zealand to the clothes' moths that infest her London house. There is an elegy for the once abundant caterpillars of her English childhood, while other sections of the book include elegies for human beings and poems based on family wills from the 16th to the 20th centuries, as well as birthday greetings for old friends and for a new great-grandson.
Born in New Zealand in 1934, Fleur Adcock spent the war years in England, returning with her family to New Zealand in 1947, and has lived in Britain since 1963, with regular visits to New Zealand. She has published many collections of poems, including her collected poems, Poems 1960–2000 (2000), and ten years later Dragon Talk (2010). Her many awards include the 1961 Festival of Wellington Poetry Award, the Jessie Mackay Prize in 1968 and 1972, the Buckland Award in 1968 and 1979, the New Zealand National Book Award in 1984, an OBE in 1986, a CNZM in 2008, and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2006.