Treasure Island

Julia Ward Howe

(1819 - 1910 / United States)

The Bee's Song


Do not tie my wings,
Says the honey-bee;
Do not bind my wings,
Leave them glad and free.
If I fly abroad,
If I keep afar,
Humming all the day,
Where wild blossoms are,
'Tis to bring you sweets,
Rich as summer joy,
Clear--as gold and glass;
The divinest toy
That the god's have left,
Is the pretty hive,
Where a maiden reigns,
And the busy thrive.

If you bar my way,
Your delight is gone,
No more honey-gems;
From the heather borne;
No more tiny thefts,
From your neighbor's rose,
Who were glad to guess
Where its sweetness goes.

Let the man of arts
Ply his plane and glass;
Let the vapors rise,
Let the liquor pass;
Let the dusky slave
Till the southern fields;
Not the task of both
Such a treasure yields;
Honey, Pan ordained,
Food for gods and men,
Only in my way
Shall you store again.

Leave me to my will
While the bright days glow,
While the sleepy flowers
Quicken as I go.
When the pretty ones
Look to me no more,
Dead, beneath your feet,
Crushed and dabbled o'er;
In my narrow cell
I will fold my wing;
Sink in dark and chill,
A forgotten thing.

Can you read the song
Of the suppliant bee?
'Tis a poet's soul,
Asking liberty.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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