Wintering (Bees) : Sylvia Plath

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To be honest, Sylvia Plath’s poetry has always made me slightly uncomfortable.  I find it hard to think of her without a creepy feeling.  I know, she was a tormented young woman but I feel the way I feel.  Imagine, then, my cringe when I opened an email from James in which he excitedly shared with me a poem by a beekeeper named Sylvia Plath.  I had no idea she ever kept bees.  Here is a link to her beekeeping poetry and a well-written article about this time in her life: Sylvia Plath and the Bees

 

Wintering

This is the easy time,  there is nothing doing.
I have whirled the midwife’s extractor,
I have my honey,
Six jars of it,
Six cat’s eyes in the wine cellar,

Wintering in a dark without window
At the heart of the house
Next to the last tenant’s rancid jam
And the bottles of empty glitters -
Sir So-and-so’s gin.

This is the room I have never been in.
This is the room I could never breathe in.
The black bunched in there like a bat,
No light
But the torch and its faint

Chinese yellow on appalling objects -
Black asininity.  Decay.
Possession.
It is they who own me.
Neither cruel nor indifferent,

Only ignorant.
This is the time of hanging on for the bees  the bees
So slow I hardly know them,
Filing like soldiers
To the syrup tin
To make up for the honey I’ve taken.
Tate and Lyle keeps them going,
The refined snow.
It is Tate and Lyle they live on, instead of flowers.
They take it.  The cold sets in.

Now they ball in a mass,
Black
Mind against all that white.
The smile of the snow is white.
It spreads itself out, a mile-long body of Meissen,

Into which, on warm days,
They can only carry their dead.
The bees are all women,
Maids and the long royal lad.
They have got rid of the men,

The blunt, clumsy stumblers, the boors.
Winter is for women -
The woman, still at her knitting,
At the cradle of Spanish Walnut,
Her body a bulb in the cold and too dumb to think.

Will the hive survive, will the gladiolas
Succeed in banking their fires
To enter another year?
What will they taste of, the Christmas roses?
The bees are flying.  They taste the spring.

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