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Bee Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The Tax-Gatherer by John B. Tabb
  2. The pedigree of honey by Emily Dickinson
  3. The Bee and the Blossoms by John B. Tabb
  4. Song of the Bees by Hannah Flagg Gould
  5. "How Doth the Little Busy Bee" by Isaac Watts
  6. The Butterfly and the Bee by William Lisle Bowles
  7. The Song of the Bee by Marian Douglas
  8. Apotheosis by Emily Dickinson
  9. Could I but ride indefinite, by Emily Dickinson
  10. Possession by Emily Dickinson
  11. The Bee by Emily Dickinson
  12. The nearest dream recedes, unrealized by Emily Dickinson
  13. To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, — by Emily Dickinson
  14. To The Bee Balm by John Burroughs
  15. The Honey-Bee by John B. Tabb
  16. Wild Bees by John Clare
  17. The Bee, Clover, and Thistle by Hannah Flagg Gould
  18. The Bee and the Child by Hannah Flagg Gould
  19. On a Honey Bee by Philip Freneau
  20. The Decision by Kate Slaughter McKinney
  21. I taste a liquor never brewed by Emily Dickinson
  22. The Bees by Thomas Hastings
  23. The Drop of Honey by Albert Moore Longley

  1. The Tax-Gatherer

    by John B. Tabb

    "And pray, who are you?"
    Said the violet blue
    To the Bee, with surprise
    At his wonderful size,
    In her eye-glass of dew.

    "I, madam," quoth he,
    "Am a publican Bee,
    Collecting the tax
    On honey and wax.
    Have you nothing for me?"

  2. The pedigree of honey

    by Emily Dickinson

    The pedigree of honey
    Does not concern the bee;
    A clover, any time, to him
    Is aristocracy.

  3. The Bee and the Blossoms

    by John B. Tabb

    "Why stand ye idle, blossoms bright,
    The livelong summer day?"
    "Alas! we labour all the night
    For what thou takest away."

  4. Song of the Bees

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    We watch for the light of the morn to break
    And color the eastern sky
    With its blended hues of saffron and lake,
    Then say to each other, "Awake! awake!
    For our winter's honey is all to make,
    And our bread for a long supply!"

    Then, off we hie to the hill and the dell,
    To the field, the meadow and bower.
    In the columbine's horn we love to dwell,
    To dip in the lily with snow-white bell,
    To search the balm in its odorous cell,
    The mint and the rosemary-flower.

    We seek the bloom of the eglantine,
    Of the painted thistle and brier;
    And follow the steps of the wandering vine,
    Whether it trail on the earth, supine,
    Or round the aspiring tree-top twine,
    And reach for a state still higher.

    As each, on the good of her sisters bent,
    Is busy and cares for all;
    We hope for an evening with hearts content,
    For the winter of life without lament
    That summer is gone with its hours misspent,
    And the harvest is past recall!

  5. "How Doth the Little Busy Bee"

    by Isaac Watts

    How doth the little busy bee
    Improve each shining hour,
    And gather honey all the day
    From every opening flower!

    How skilfully she builds her cell!
    How neat she spreads the wax!
    And labors hard to storeit well
    With the sweet food she makes.

    In works of labor or of skill,
    I would be busy too;
    For Satan finds some mischief still
    For idle hands to do.

    In books, or work, or healthful play,
    Let my first years be passed,
    That I may give for every day
    Some good account at last.

  6. The Butterfly and the Bee

    by William Lisle Bowles

    Methought I heard a butterfly
    Say to a laboring bee;
    "Thou hast no colors of the sky
    On painted wings like me."

    "Poor child of vanity! those dyes,
    And colors bright and rare,"
    With mild reproof, the bee replies,
    "Are all beneath my care."

    "Content I toil from morn till eve,
    And, scorning idleness,
    To tribes of gaudy sloth I leave
    The vanity of dress."

  7. The Song of the Bee

    by Marian Douglas

    Buzz! buzz! buzz!
    This is the song of the bee.
    His legs are of yellow;
    A jolly, good fellow,
    And yet a great worker is he.

    In days that are sunny
    He's getting his honey;
    In days that are cloudy
    He's making his wax:
    On pinks and on lilies,
    And gay daffodillies,
    And columbine blossoms,
    He levies a tax!

    Buzz! buzz! buzz!
    The sweet-smelling clover,
    He, humming, hangs over;
    The scent of the roses
    Makes fragrant his wings:
    He never gets lazy;
    From thistle and daisy,
    And weeds of the meadow,
    Some treasure he brings.

    Buzz! buzz! buzz!
    From morning's first light
    Till the coming of night,
    He's singing and toiling
    The summer day through.
    Oh! we may get weary,
    And think work is dreary;
    'Tis harder by far
    To have nothing to do.

  8. Apotheosis

    by Emily Dickinson

    Come slowly, Eden!
    Lips unused to thee,
    Bashful, sip thy jasmines,
    As the fainting bee,

    Reaching late his flower,
    Round her chamber hums,
    Counts his nectars — enters,
    And is lost in balms!

  9. Could I but ride indefinite,

    by Emily Dickinson

    Could I but ride indefinite,
    As doth the meadow-bee,
    And visit only where I liked,
    And no man visit me,

    And flirt all day with buttercups,
    And marry whom I may,
    And dwell a little everywhere,
    Or better, run away

    With no police to follow,
    Or chase me if I do,
    Till I should jump peninsulas
    To get away from you, —

    I said, but just to be a bee
    Upon a raft of air,
    And row in nowhere all day long,
    And anchor off the bar,—
    What liberty! So captives deem
    Who tight in dungeons are.

  10. Possession

    by Emily Dickinson

    Did the harebell loose her girdle
    To the lover bee,
    Would the bee the harebell hallow
    Much as formerly?

    Did the paradise, persuaded,
    Yield her moat of pearl,
    Would the Eden be an Eden,
    Or the earl an earl?

  11. The Bee

    by Emily Dickinson

    Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
    I hear the level bee:
    A jar across the flowers goes,
    Their velvet masonry

    Withstands until the sweet assault
    Their chivalry consumes,
    While he, victorious, tilts away
    To vanquish other blooms.

    His feet are shod with gauze,
    His helmet is of gold;
    His breast, a single onyx
    With chrysoprase, inlaid.

    His labor is a chant,
    His idleness a tune;
    Oh, for a bee's experience
    Of clovers and of noon!

  12. The nearest dream recedes, unrealized

    by Emily Dickinson

    The nearest dream recedes, unrealized.
    The heaven we chase
    Like the June bee
    Before the school-boy
    Invites the race;
    Stoops to an easy clover —
    Dips — evades — teases — deploys;
    Then to the royal clouds
    Lifts his light pinnace
    Heedless of the boy
    Staring, bewildered, at the mocking sky.

    Homesick for steadfast honey,
    Ah! the bee flies not
    That brews that rare variety.

  13. To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, —

    by Emily Dickinson

    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.

  14. To The Bee Balm

    by John Burroughs

    Unmoved I saw you blooming,
    Your crimson cap uplooming
    Above the jewel weed;
    'T is true I passed unheeding,
    Unmindful of your pleading,
    Until she gave you heed.

    But when she paused and plucked you,
    And in her bosom tucked you,
    And filled her girlish hands,
    New beauty filled your measure,
    You shone a woodland treasure
    Amid the floral clans.

    Your martial look grew tender,
    More winsome was your splendor
    With her beside the stream;
    Rare gift to charm she brought you,
    With her own graces fraught you,
    Retouched your glowing beam.

    I soon forgot my trouting,
    Repented of my flouting
    Your brave and festive look;
    I saw in you new meaning,
    A nodding or a leaning
    Beside the purling brook
    .

    Oh, day I long shall cherish,
    Nor let one vision perish
    That filled each sunny hour.
    The phoebe's mossy chamber,
    The pool like liquid amber,
    That mirrored maid and flower.

  15. The Honey-Bee

    by John B. Tabb

    O bee, good-by!
    Your weapon's gone,
    And you anon
    Are doomed to die;
    But Death to you can bring
    No second sting.

  16. Wild Bees

    by John Clare

    These children of the sun which summer brings
    As pastoral minstrels in her merry train
    Pipe rustic ballads upon busy wings
    And glad the cotters' quiet toils again.
    The white-nosed bee that bores its little hole
    In mortared walls and pipes its symphonies,
    And never absent couzen, black as coal,
    That Indian-like bepaints its little thighs,
    With white and red bedight for holiday,

    Right earlily a-morn do pipe and play
    And with their legs stroke slumber from their eyes.
    And aye so fond they of their singing seem
    That in their holes abed at close of day
    They still keep piping in their honey dreams,
    And larger ones that thrum on ruder pipe
    Round the sweet smelling closen and rich woods
    Where tawny white and red flush clover buds
    Shine bonnily and bean fields blossom ripe,
    Shed dainty perfumes and give honey food
    To these sweet poets of the summer fields;
    Me much delighting as I stroll along
    The narrow path that hay laid meadow yields,
    Catching the windings of their wandering song.
    The black and yellow bumble first on wing
    To buzz among the sallow's early flowers,
    Hiding its nest in holes from fickle spring
    Who stints his rambles with her frequent showers;
    And one that may for wiser piper pass,
    In livery dress half sables and half red,
    Who laps a moss ball in the meadow grass
    And hoards her stores when April showers have fled;
    And russet commoner who knows the face
    Of every blossom that the meadow brings,
    Starting the traveller to a quicker pace
    By threatening round his head in many rings:
    These sweeten summer in their happy glee
    By giving for her honey melody.

  17. The Bee, Clover, and Thistle

    Said she in a pet, 'one thing I know,'
    As she rose in haste and departed,
    'It is not those of the greatest show,
    To whom for a favor 't is best to go,
    Or that prove most generous-hearted!'

    The Bee, Clover, and Thistle
    Hannah Flagg Gould
    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    A Bee from her hive one morning flew,
    A tune to the day-light humming;
    And away she went, o'er the clear, bright dew,
    Where the grass was green, the violet blue,
    And the gold of the sun was coming.

    And what first tempted the roving Bee
    Was a head of the crimson clover.
    'I've found a treasure betimes!' said she,
    'And perhaps a greater I might not see,
    If I travelled the field all over.

    'My beautiful clover, so round and red,
    There is not a thing in twenty
    That lifts this morning so sweet a head
    Above its leaves and its earthy bed,
    With so many horns of plenty!'

    The flow'rets were thick, which the clover crowned,
    As the plumes in the helm of Hector,
    And each had a cell that was deep and round;
    Yet it would not impart, as the bee soon found,
    One drop of its precious nectar.

    She cast in her eye where the honey lay,
    And her pipe she began to measure;
    But she saw at once it was clear as day,
    That it would not go down one half the way
    To the place of the envied treasure.

    Said she in a pet, 'one thing I know,'
    As she rose in haste and departed,
    'It is not those of the greatest show,
    To whom for a favor 't is best to go,
    Or that prove most generous-hearted!'

    A fleecy flock came into the field,
    And one of its members followed
    The scent of the clover, till between
    Her nibbling teeth its head was seen,
    And then in a moment swallowed.

    'Ha, ha!' said the Bee, as the clover died,
    'Her fortune's smile was fickle!
    And now I can get my wants supplied
    By a humble flower with a rough outside,
    And even a scale and prickle.'

    Then she flew to one that by man and beast
    Was shunned for its pointed bristle;
    But it injured not the bee in the least;
    And she filled her pocket, and had a feast
    From the bloom of the purple Thistle.

    The generous Thistle's life was spared
    In the home where the Bee first found her;
    Till she grew so old she was hoary-haired,
    And her snow-white locks with the silk compared,
    As they shone where the sun beamed round her.

  18. The Bee and the Child

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Come here, little Bee,
    There are fresh flowers by me;
    Come, and just let me see
    How your honey is made!
    'I can't, for I fear
    That, for coming too near,
    I should pay very dear,
    So I can't—I'm afraid!'

    O, feel no alarm;
    Not a leg, nor an arm,
    Nor a wing will I harm.
    You may here sip your fill.
    'Pretty maid, then I'll come
    Close beside you and hum,
    And you shall have some
    Of the sweets I distil.'

    Then my trust shall be free
    As yours is in me,
    And be sure, little Bee,
    That you do'nt use your sting!
    'Oh! no! no! — since I flew
    From the cell where I grew,
    None has known me to do
    So ungrateful a thing!'

    Then why thus supplied
    With a sting, but to hide
    And to keep it untried,
    Out of sight, little Bee?
    'He, who gave me my sting
    And my swift gauzy wing,
    Bids me not harm a thing
    That would not injure me!'

  19. On a Honey Bee

    by Philip Freneau

    Thou born to sip the lake or spring,
    Or quaff the waters of the stream,
    Why hither come on vagrant wing?—
    Does Bacchus tempting seem—
    Did he, for you, the glass prepare?—
    Will I admit you to a share?

    Did storms harrass or foes perplex,
    Did wasps or king-birds bring dismay—
    Did wars distress, or labours vex,
    Or did you miss your way?—
    A better seat you could not take
    Than on the margin of this lake.

    Welcome!—I hail you to my glass:
    All welcome, here, you find;
    Here let the cloud of trouble pass,
    Here, be all care resigned.—
    This fluid never fails to please,
    And drown the griefs of men or bees.

    What forced you here, we cannot know,
    And you will scarcely tell—
    But cheery we would have you go
    And bid a glad farewell:
    On lighter wings we bid you fly,
    Your dart will now all foes defy.

    Yet take not oh! too deep a drink,
    And in the ocean die;
    Here bigger bees than you might sink,
    Even bees full six feet high.
    Like Pharaoh, then, you would be said
    To perish in a sea of red.

    Do as you please, your will is mine;
    Enjoy it without fear—
    And your grave will be this glass of wine,
    Your epitaph—a tear—
    Go, take your seat in Charon's boat,
    We'll tell the hive, you died afloat.

  20. The Decision

    by Kate Slaughter McKinney

    A dispute once arose in a bee-hive
    As to which of the little brown bees
    Could gather the sweetest nectar
    From blossoms or budding trees.

    The queen tried in vain to discover
    Some method the riot to quell;
    But a challenge for war had been sounded,
    And threatened was each honey cell.

    So she spoke in a voice most persuasive—
    “He shall sit on my throne for an hour,
    Who brings from the store-house of nature,
    The juice of the sweetest-lipped flower.”

    Away flew the brown little workers,
    Away out of sight o’er the hill;
    Then backward and forward they flitted,
    The honey-cups eager to fill.

    One famished the heart of a lily,
    And drank from its milky bud;
    One opened the vein of a rose leaf,
    And licked up the crimson blood.

    To a poppy-bed still one hurried,
    On a downy cot he crept,
    But all-day in the silken blankets,
    Unconscious there he slept.

    Another flew off to the meadow,
    And punctured the daisy’s cap;
    A swarm had encompassed a fountain,
    Where gurgled the sugar-tree sap.

    A fourth and a fifth to a mansion
    Had followed a bridal pair;
    One strangled the bud on her bosom,
    One mangled the wreath on her hair.

    But the sixth one paused at a cottage,
    Where a sick girl sleeping lay;
    And there by the open window,
    Blossomed a hyacinth spray.

    A youth stood near in the shadows,
    And watching the dreamer’s face,
    A tear rolled down from his eyelid
    And fell on the hyacinth vase.

    It was only the work of a moment
    For a busy bee to do,
    To flavor affections tear-drop
    With the extract, “flower-dew.”

    So he gathered this precious honey,
    And, polishing up his sting,
    He flitted out of the window,
    With gold dust under his wing.

    Such a night in the little bee-hive
    Before was never known;
    For the hyacinth’s rich moist pollen
    Had paved the way to the throne.

  21. I taste a liquor never brewed

    by Emily Dickinson

    I taste a liquor never brewed,
    From tankards scooped in pearl;
    Not all the vats upon the Rhine
    Yield such an alcohol!

    Inebriate of air am I,
    And debauchee of dew,
    Reeling, through endless summer days,
    From inns of molten blue.

    When landlords turn the drunken bee
    Out of the foxglove's door,
    When butterflies renounce their drams,
    I shall but drink the more!

    Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
    And saints to windows run,
    To see the little tippler
    Leaning against the sun!

  22. The Bees

    by Thomas Hastings

    Oh, mother dear, pray tell me where
    The bees in winter stay?
    The flowers are gone they feed upon,
    So sweet in summer’s day.

    My child, they live within the hive,
    And have enough to eat;
    Amid the storm they’re clean and warm,
    Their food is honey sweet.
    Say, mother dear, how came it there?
    Did father feed them so?
    I see no way in winter’s day
    That honey has to grow.

    No, no, my child; in summer mild
    The bees laid up their store
    Of honey-drops in little cups,
    Till they would want no more.
    In cups, you said—how are they made?
    Are they as large as ours?
    Oh, no; they’re all made nice and small,
    Of wax found in the flowers.

    Our summer’s day, to work and play,
    Is now in mercy given,
    And we must strive, long as we live,
    To lay up stores in heaven.

    19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    – Matthew 6:19-21
    KJV
  23. The Drop of Honey

    by Albert Moore Longley

    Sweet flowers, by light-winged zephyrs softly fanned,
    By busy insects, humming o er you, scanned;
    In forest glade, and on the water strand,
    In loveliness ye bloom.
    Alas! ye're faded now; for Autumn's breath
    Hath swept the glade, the strand, and scattered death
    On every hand, and with its frosty teeth
    Hath nipped you for the tomb.

    But flowers, your sweets ye've left behind, to cheer
    The heart and feast the taste we'd shed a tear;
    For like the good, whose good works still live here,
    Ye fade—and droop—and die:
    And though ye're gone, there yet remains, to lure
    The most fastidious, a liquid pure,
    Which bursts in plenty forth, so sweet, from your
    Ambrosial nectary.

    From out the fractured cell, the honey-drop
    Was gushing clear, and I essayed to stop
    Its downward course; so with a hasty scoop
    I caught the limpid store:
    But, O within that drop there lurked, unseen,
    A sting acute, and poisonous; which e'en
    Did pierce my mouth; the smart how keen!
    My soul cried out—no more!

    Still to my smarting palate it would cling,
    As 'twere exulting in the pain 't could bring;
    Till gladly I drew forth the ruthless thing,
    And ever since that day,
    Careful am I, when I do honey eat,
    To know if it has not a sting, to cheat
    Me of the joy that s oft so passing sweet,
    And dash the cup away.

    Moral

    Examine well the honey ere you taste;
    The sweetest pleasures here, if sought in haste,
    May give you pain—nay, they will often bring,
    Unseen by careless eyes, a deadly sting.