TCS: The Bee-Loud Glade – poems for World Bee Day

. . Good Morning!

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Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings.
This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning
a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.

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So full but now of summer’s triumph-notes
The bees’ rich murmur filled their honeyed throats

– Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen

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Today is World Bee Day because it’s the day in 1734 when Anton Janša was born in Carniola (now part of Slovenia). He was a painter, author, and a pioneer in beekeeping, who wrote A Full Guide to Beekeeping and Discussion on Beekeeping.


Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

There is an ongoing global decline in honeybees. I was going to begin with a round-up of the facts and statistics on this crisis, but they depressed me so much, I decided no one should have to start their Monday morning reading them.

So let’s just celebrate all 20,000 species of bees, even though most of them don’t make honey, or dance. In the U.S. alone, there are over 4,000 species of native bees, but the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) is an immigrant from Europe.

And it just so happens that several of my favorite poets have written bee-related poems.

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We are bees,
and our body is a honeycomb.
We made
the body, cell by cell we made it.

– Rumi (1207-1273)

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Where the bee sucks, there suck I

from The Tempest, by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.

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To make a prairie

by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

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The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

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Hum

by Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

What is this dark hum among the roses?
The bees have gone simple, sipping,
that’s all. What did you expect? Sophistication?
They’re small creatures and they are
filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not
moan in happiness? The little
worker bee lives, I have read, about three weeks.
Is that long? Long enough, I suppose, to understand
that life is a blessing. I have found them — haven’t you? —
stopped in the very cups of the flowers, their wings
a little tattered — so much flying about, to the hive,
then out into the world, then back, and perhaps dancing,
should the task be to be a scout-sweet, dancing bee.
I think there isn’t anything in this world I don’t
admire. If there is, I don’t know what it is. I
haven’t met it yet. Nor expect to. The bee is small,
and since I wear glasses, so I can see the traffic and
read books, I have to
take them off and bend close to study and
understand what is happening. It’s not hard, it’s in fact
as instructive as anything I have ever studied. Plus, too,
it’s love almost too fierce to endure, the bee
nuzzling like that into the blouse
of the rose. And the fragrance, and the honey, and of course
the sun, the purely pure sun, shining, all the while, over
all of us.


“Hum” from New and Selected Poems: Volume Two, © 2007 by Mary Oliver – Beacon Press

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Bees Were Better

by Naomi Shihab Nye (1952- )

In college, people were always breaking up.
We broke up in parking lots,
beside fountains.
Two people broke up
across a table from me
at the library.
I could not sit at that table again
though I did not know them.
I studied bees, who were able
to convey messages through dancing
and could find their ways
home to their hives
even if someone put up a blockade of sheets
and boards and wire.
Bees had radar in their wings and brains
that humans could barely understand.
I wrote a paper proclaiming
their brilliance and superiority
and revised it at a small café
featuring wooden hive-shaped honey-dippers
in silver honeypots
at every table.


“Bees Were Better,” © 2008 by Naomi Shihab Nye, from If Bees Are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems, edited by James P. Lenfestey – University of Minnesota Press

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The Bee Carol

by Carol Ann Duffy (1955- )

Silently on Christmas Eve,
the turn of midnight’s key;
all the garden locked in ice —
a silver frieze —
except the winter cluster of the bees.

Flightless now and shivering,
around their Queen they cling;
every bee a gift of heat;
she will not freeze
within the winter cluster of the bees.

Bring me for my Christmas gift
a single golden jar;
let me taste the sweetness there,
but honey leave
to feed the winter cluster of the bees.


“The Bee Carol” from The Bees, © 2011 by Carol Ann Duffy – Picador, a division of Macmillan Publishers

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The small drawing is Bee, lurgid by Abigail Mae Buchan

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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