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Nov 2020
TELLING THE BEES


"A year has gone, as the tortoise goes,
   Heavy and slow;
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows,
   And the same brook sings of a year ago."

Telling The Bees - John Greenleaf Whittier


A cloud of bees
angry not to be told

"Why the delay...
why this day!"

I tell them I could find
no words.

Could hardly tell myself
the truth of your death.

Unable to believe
or to accept.

I couldn't speak
or rhyme.

Despite the Plath
or Greenleaf Whittier.

Grief is a voice
that cannot speak.

Death tears the tongue out
then commands me to speak.

I have only
this silence.

I come before this
court of bees.

Speak only
in silences.

I stand in the form
of a crucifix.

Accept the suffering
of your fierce stings.

Atoning for
the not telling.

The bees and I
now as one.


*

The old tradition of telling the bees when someone has gone over to the other side...usually in a little rhyme....keeping them in the know so that they know what's what and who's what now that there has been this huge shift in the world with the death of someone loved. Sometimes hives were aligned to the house in acknowledgement.
The old tradition of telling the bees when someone has gone over to the other side...usually in a little rhyme....keeping them in the know so that they know what's what and who's what now that there has been this huge shift in the world with the death of someone loved. Sometimes hives were aligned to the house in acAnd so poem begats poem...


And here be John Greenleaf Whittier’s 1858 TELLING THE BEED

Here is the place; right over the hill
Runs the path I took;
You can see the gap in the old wall still,
And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook.

There is the house, with the gate red-barred,
And the poplars tall;
And the barn’s brown length, and the cattle-yard,
And the white horns tossing above the wall.

There are the beehives ranged in the sun;
; And down by the brink
Of the brook are her poor flowers, ****-o’errun,
***** and daffodil, rose and pink.

A year has gone, as the tortoise goes,
Heavy and slow;
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows,
And the same brook sings of a year ago.

There ’s the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze;
And the June sun warm
Tangles his wings of fire in the trees,
Setting, as then, over Fernside farm.

I mind me how with a lover’s care
From my Sunday coat
I brushed off the burrs, and smoothed my hair,
And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat.

Since we parted, a month had passed,
To love, a year;
Down through the beeches I looked at last
On the little red gate and the well-sweep near.

I can see it all now,—the slantwise rain
Of light through the leaves,
The sundown’s blaze on her window-pane,
The bloom of her roses under the eaves.

Just the same as a month before,—
The house and the trees,
The barn’s brown gable, the vine by the door,—
Nothing changed but the hives of bees.

Before them, under the garden wall,
; Forward and back,
Went drearily singing the chore-girl small,
Draping each hive with a shred of black.

Trembling, I listened: the summer sun
Had the chill of snow;


For I knew she was telling the bees of one
Gone on the journey we all must go!

Then I said to myself, “My Mary weeps
For the dead to-day:
Haply her blind old grandsire sleeps
The fret and the pain of his age away.”

But her dog whined low; on the doorway sill,
With his cane to his chin,
The old man sat; and the chore-girl still
Sung to the bees stealing out and in.

And the song she was singing ever since
In my ear sounds on:—
“Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!
Mistress Mary is dead and gone."
Donall Dempsey
Written by
Donall Dempsey  Guildford
(Guildford)   
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