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.


Michelle Elvy said...

Buzzing energy. I love this part, especially, for some reason:

I lay my ear to furious Latin.
I am not a Caesar.
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.

Great poem. Will have to read a few more times.

T. said...

Thank you for posting this, Mary.
The way this poem vibrates and buzzes lights up my brain on this foggy winter Sunday morning in the Northern Hemisphere!