The Bees is a collection of more serious poems than those included in The World’s Wife, also by British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. This collection is more diverse in subject matter and quite varied in form, containing sonnets, haiku, free verse, and even drinking songs. And many of the poems are about bees.
In “Bees,” Duffy even presents her poems as bees: “brazen, blurs on paper,/besotted; buzzwords, dancing/their flawless, airy maps.” In this poem she finishes with “and know of us;/how your scent pervades/my shadowed, busy heart,/and honey is art.” My niece, a beekeeper, would especially appreciate that.
I understand that after Duffy’s mother died, she did not write for some time. Especially touching are some of the poems about her mother. In one, she gives her dying mother a last drink of water and remembers the times her mother brought her water when she was a child. In another, a remembered kiss from her mother after she was out in the cold as a child makes her think of kissing her dead mother’s lips.
Some of the mythological figures visited so vividly and amusingly in The World’s Wife, Sisyphus and Achilles among them, are revisited more seriously here.
The poetry is lyrical. It is sometimes harder to understand than the works in The World’s Wife, but it always sings.