'Bees' in Carol Ann Duffy's new collection The Bees!
Submitted by Janet Lewison on 04 October 2011
Honey is art’ declares Carol Ann Duffy in her first poem of her new collection, The Bees. Only the other day, Aldi sold me a pot of manuka honey 10+ for a record £3-99 whilst Morrisons I noticed yesterday had new range of New Zealand bio active honey! A Sunday paper told me on the weekend that such honey could take 10 years off my face when applied like cream. Thyme for time! Honey it seems is all the rage. Ecologically we dance on a disastrous precipice of our own making, and it seems very much a concern of Carol Ann Duffy to embrace the zeitgeist and to explore the fragility of our planet’s natural balance. The Bees is collection of poems with a far wider 'world' focus than Duffy’s very intimate last collection Rapture, a collection intimately involved with the euphoria and subsquent distintegration of a romantic relationship. I do like this breadth and the looming intimacies made accessible perhaps through this breadth. Human beings are so perversely paradoxical that sometimes intimacy is most intensely experienced when we are not intimately attuned. Retrospect recognises this I feel. sometimes revealingly forgetful of what once seemed significant. I love the final line of this poem, ‘The Bees’. ‘Honey’ after all is such a sensory experience. As it works in terms of being both a metaphor and a literal experience, it anchors us to so many ‘meetings’ in our lived life, some more private than others perhaps. This ‘flower’ is followed by that flower, colours and scents contrast and challenge one another. We go ‘deep’ in this experience, we visit ‘both thistle’ and ‘golden lotus’. It is the poet’s versatility that creates art from difference- and if Wordsworth was right, then aren’t we all poets too? Thus, as the bee pollinates and cross pollinates, so one experience feeds into another, feeds off another, expanding our understanding and ‘taste’ for life. This ’anxiety of influence’ ( Harold Bloom) creates such a rich variety of honey- and such scents that new life is created. Wise bee words. Listen. You can hear them. You can smell their scent. Ancient gardens. Perfect flowers. Gold. Honey. Bees.