Dickinson wrote a number of poems in which the bee appears. Here is one:
PEDIGREE of honey
not concern the bee;
clover, any time, to him
known, perhaps is this one:
To make a prairie it takes a clover
and one bee, —
One clover, and a bee,
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.
There are many contemporary poems
about bees. Bees buzz through Naomi Shihab Nye’s book of “poems and
paragraphs,” Honeybee. Carol Ann
Duffy, the poet laureate of Great Britain, has written a whole book of
bee-related poems entitled The Bees.
I will provide a list of bee poems at the bottom of the page – not a complete
list, but a fairly long one.
Why so many bee poems? Bees,
especially honeybees, are fascinating, productive, scary, and vital to the
wellbeing of the planet, including human beings. And they produce honey.
Here is a poem that combines some
scientific knowledge with the poet’s feelings and thoughts.
gave the honeybee six weeks
five hundred miles
windy, white clover fields
pink and proper rose gardens
nectar in that careful needle
no time for self-pity, though
life’s work, together
that of eleven sisters
the teaspoon of honey
just stirred into my tea.
she stops to walk
sturdy legs grow heavy
she fills her pollen-baskets
food for the bees back home,
I like to think her stroll
those upturned yellow faces
more for the joy of making me wonder
I know of happiness.
Tricks of Light (A Parallel Press
Chapbook; Madison, WI: Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Libraries, 2011), p. 17. This poem will appear in If Bees Are Few: A Hive of
Bee Poems, a new anthology edited
by James Lenfestey, soon to be
published by the University of Minnesota Press. Tomasko owns copyright to this
poem. Please do not copy and distribute it without her permission.
Jeanie Tomasko is the author of Tricks of Light (Parallel Press), Sharp
as Want (Little Eagle Press), a poetry / artworks collaboration with Sharon
Auberle, an e-chapbook, If I Confess
Before 5:00 (Right Hand Pointing) and most recently, (Prologue), the recipient of an Editor’s Choice award from Concrete
Wolf Chapbook Series . Her work has
been published in The Midwest Quarterly, Right Hand Pointing, Rattle, Wisconsin
People and Ideas and Birdsthumb.
She works as a home health nurse in Madison, WI and can be found online at
poetry challenge for March, as I’m sure you have figured out by now, is to
write a poem about bees. Your submission can be a memory poem, a lament for the
decline of the bee population, a persona poem in the voice of a bee—use your
creativity! The bee or bees in your poem can be any kind of bee. They can be
literal or metaphoric. It can be free verse or formal. If formal, please
mention the form in your email.
only one poem. The deadline is April 17. Poems submitted after the April 17
deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no
monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please don’t
stray far from “family-friendly” language. No simultaneous submissions, please.
You will know before the month is over whether or not your poem will be
published on this blog.
on each poem is retained by the poet.
Poems published in
books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks)
are not eligible.
If your poem has been published in a print periodical, you may submit it if you
retain copyright, but please include publication data.
to Submit Your Poem:
Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign
for “at” and a . for “dot”) . Include a brief bio which can be printed with
your poem, if you are a winner this month.
of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a
winner, so be sure that you put your name (exactly as you would like it to
appear if you do win) at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email
or sent as an attachment. Please do not indent the poem or center it on the
page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and
poem left-justified; title in bold (not all in capital letters); your name at
the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use spaces instead of commas in
the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique; I
sometimes do it myself. However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept
and maintain extra spaces.
shorter than 30 lines are generally preferred. Also, if lines are too long,
they don’t fit in the blog format and have to be split, so you might be wise to
use shorter lines.
in which bees play a significant role:
A. R. Ammons, “Transfer,” Collected
Poems 1951-1971 (NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1972), p. 215.
Ciardi, “Bees and Morning Glories,” The Collected Poems of John Ciardi.
© The University of Arkansas Press, 1997.
Dickinson, XCVII (“To make a prairie”), LVIII (“The bee is not afraid of me”),
LIV (“The murmur of a bee”), CII (“Could I but ride. . .”),
LVI (“The pedigree of honey”), XXVII (“Did
the harebell loose. . . .”), XXIV (“The nearest dream recedes”), XCVIII (“It’s
like the light”), LXV (“Like trains of cars. . . .”), and XIV (“Some things
that fly . . .”). This can be located via http://www.bartleby.com/cgi-bin/texis/webinator/sitesearch?FILTER=colDickinsoE&query=bee&x=0&y=0
Duffy, The Bees (Faber & Faber,
Grennan, “Up Against It,” Out
of Sight: New & Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2010).
Hirshfield, “Bees,” The Lives of the
Heart (HarperPerennial, 1997), p. 61.
Lindsay, “Tell the Bees,” Poetry
Lies, “End Notes for a Small History,” Southern
Poetry Review XXXVIII:1 (Summer 1998), page 33.
Mandelstam, “For Joy’s Sake,” translation by A. S. Cline,
Julie L. Moore, "Hells Angels," Particular Scandals (Wipf and Stock, 2013).
Naomi Shihab Nye, Honeybee
(Greenwillow Books, 2008).
Plath, “The Bee Meeting,” “Bees,” “The Arrival of the Bee Box,” “Stings,” and
“Wintering,” Ariel: The Restored
Edition A Facsimile of Plath’s
Manuscript, Reinstating Her Original Selection and Arrangement
(HarperCollins, 2004), pp. 81-90, 189, 193).
Woodworth Reese, Telling the Bees,” She Wields a
Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa
Matthew Rohrer, “Garden of Bees,” http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/22554?utm_source=PAD%3A+Austerity+by+Janet+Loxley+Lewis&utm_campaign=poemaday_112313&utm_medium=email.
Tomasko, “Little Lives,” and “Watching Bees,” Tricks of Light (Poetry Series; Madison Wisconsin: Parallel Press,
2012), pages 11 and 26.
Mona Van Duyn, “A Time of Bees,” If
It Be Not I: Collected Poems 1959-1982 (Alfred A. Knopf, a 1959).
Jean Valentine, “Bees,” Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003 (Wesleyan University Press, 2004).
Nancy Willard, “The February Bee,” The
Sea At Truro (Knopf, 2012).
Eleanor Rand Wilner, “The Girl with
Bees in Her Hair” and “Field of Vision,” The Girl with Bees in Her Hair
(Copper Canyon Press, 2004).
Franz Wright, “Bees of Eleusis,” Poetry (January 2011).
May you spend some part of April in a “bee-loud glade.”