Spring iris

The chill of autumn
Foreshadows winter days of
Remembering spring’s bloom.

Taken May 31, 2010:

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These bloom at night, presumably to attract night-flying insects for pollination. The sun is barely below the horizon and they have already unfurled themselves.

Nine flowers and two rather photogenic bees

Where the bee sucks

William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act 5, Scene 1:
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

The bees are back.   These photos were taken early in June. The bee on the dandelion is actually two bees–I didn’t notice until I had the images in the computer and was playing with the zoom.  (Photos are clickable.)

To go with the photos, here is a honey poem from Federico Garcia Lorca:

La miel es la palabra de Cristo,
el oro derretido de su amor.
El más allá del néctar,
la momia de la luz del paraíso.

La colmena es una estrella casta,
pozo de ámbar que alimenta el ritmo
de las abejas. Seno de los campos
tembloroso de aromas y zumbidos.

La miel es la epopeya del amor,
la materialidad de lo infinito.
Alma y sangre doliente de las flores
condensada a través de otro espíritu.

(Así la miel del hombre es la poesía
que mana de su pecho dolorido,
de un panal con la cera del recuerdo
formado por la abeja de lo íntimo)

La miel es la bucólica lejana
del pastor, la dulzaina y el olivo,
hermana de la leche y las bellotas,
reinas supremas del dorado siglo.

La miel es como el sol de la mañana,
tiene toda la gracia del estío
y la frescura vieja del otoño.
Es la hoja marchita y es el trigo.

¡Oh divino licor de la humildad,
sereno como un verso primitivo!
La armonía hecha carne tú eres,
el resumen genial de lo lírico.

En ti duerme la melancolía,
el secreto del beso y del grito.
Dulcísima. Dulce. Este es tu adjetivo.
Dulce como los vientres de las hembras.
Dulce como los ojos de los niños.
Dulce como las sombras de la noche.
Dulce como una voz. O como un lirio.

Para el que lleva la pena y la lira,
eres sol que ilumina el camino.
Equivales a todas las bellezas,
al color, a la luz, a los sonidos.

¡Oh! Divino licor de la esperanza,
donde a la perfección del equilibrio
llegan alma y materia en unidad
como en la hostia cuerpo y luz de Cristo.

Y el alma superior es de las flores,
¡Oh licor que esas almas has unido!
El que te gusta no sabe que traga
un resumen dorado del lirismo.

Two beekeepers have done an English translation of the above Lorca poem, also they have a list of bee poetry, from Neruda to Homer to Shakespeare.

But see if you really need any more bee poetry after absorbing this haiku from Matsuo Basho:

The Bee

How reluctantly
the bee emerges from the deep
within the peony

Bloom where you are planted?

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These are bees for sure

The rain has ended and it’s time for non-stop gardening, punctuated only by enough medicine to keep the inevitable aches at bay  and smearing Neosporin on the scratches that have appeared on the typing surfaces of my fingers.

But I have not forgotten my adoring public.  Here are some real bees, unlike the creatures in the previous post that turned out to be wasps.   You can see the honey sacks on their legs. Also, they are quite furry.   The bee in the first photograph is still in flight; the camera lens is not fast enough to stop the action of its wings. You can see only a silver shine where the moving wings are.

Bee poem links after the photos.

Bee poem: Osip Mandelstam’s 1920 “Take from my hand…” Here is the third stanza, in Russian, and two versions in English: Languagehat’s translation, that to me shows the richness and texture of the original Russian, and Slawkenbergius’ translation, which takes liberties with the original that illuminate the poem and crystallize the understanding of it.

Mandelstam: Нам остаются только поцелуи,
Мохнатые, как маленькие пчелы,
Что умирают, вылетев из улья.

LH: The only thing that’s left to us is kisses:
furry, like the little bees
who die in midair, flying from their hive.

Slawk: So we are left, alas, only with kisses
Covered in wool, like feeble, tiny bees
Which tumble lifeless when they leave the hive.

Google translate: We are only kissing, Shaggy, like little bees dying, taking off from the hive.

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Macro bees (or maybe wasps)

When I went across the street this morning to gather mint for my morning tea, the bees were taking quite an interest in the mint patch. It wasn’t the mint that interested them though, it was last year’s garlic stalks.  You could actually hear the sound of them chewing the dry stalks. I suppose they need it to build some sort of honeycomb.

For corresponding poetry here are a few lines of Sylvia Plath’s “The Bee Meeting”:

Who are these people at the bridge to meet me? They are the
The rector, the midwife, the sexton, the agent for bees.
In my sleeveless summery dress I have no protection,
And they are all gloved and covered, why did nobody tell me?
They are smiling and taking out veils tacked to ancient hats.

Since Ariel was republished, with some new material, most of the open source websites where you could get a taste of her writing have evaporated, some with a terse copyright explanation, but you can still read the rest of the first bee poem and some commentary at the Sylvia Plath forum.

Plath wrote a series of five bee poems: The Bee Meeting, The Arrival of the Bee Box, Stings, The Swarm, and Wintering; here is a link to a series of essays about the bee series, as well as a few more snippets of the poems. If you read The Bell Jar back in the 60’s, and puzzled about her suicide, the bee poems show a little different side of the poet.

On second thought, judging by the lack of furriness, these might be wasps.  In which case, let me offer up a wasp poem:

The Wasp by Ogden Nash
The wasp and all his numerous family
I look upon as a major calamity.
He throws open his nest with prodigality,
But I distrust his waspitality.
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