Monday, January 26, 2015

Tuesday Poem: The Arrival of the Bee Box by Sylvia Plath

I ordered this, clean wood box 
Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift. 
I would say it was the coffin of a midget 
Or a square baby 
Were there not such a din in it. 

The box is locked, it is dangerous. 
I have to live with it overnight 
And I can't keep away from it. 
There are no windows, so I can't see what is in there. 
There is only a little grid, no exit. 

I put my eye to the grid. 
It is dark, dark, 
With the swarmy feeling of African hands 
Minute and shrunk for export, 
Black on black, angrily clambering. 

How can I let them out? 
It is the noise that appals me most of all, 
The unintelligible syllables. 
It is like a Roman mob, 
Small, taken one by one, but my god, together! 

I lay my ear to furious Latin. 
I am not a Caesar. 
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs. 
They can be sent back. 
They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner. 

I wonder how hungry they are. 
I wonder if they would forget me 
If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree. 
There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades, 
And the petticoats of the cherry. 

They might ignore me immediately 
In my moon suit and funeral veil. 
I am no source of honey 
So why should they turn on me? 
Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free. 

The box is only temporary.

I don't keep bees but I know people who do. They love them, are mesmerised by them. And Sylvia? Bees are a box of 'maniacs' – something to control – like the buzzing in one's brain. A great write up here:

Afterwards go to the Tuesday Poem hub  page: to find another wonderful poem: this one by young Canterbury poet Hamish Petersen, selected by Andrew Bell.