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The Bees

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  576 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
'The Bees' is a collection of poetry from the pen of Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Weaving through the book is its presiding spirit, the bee, symbolizing what we have left of grace in the world and what is most precious for us to protect.Winner of the 2011 Costa Poetry Award.
Hardcover, 84 pages
Published October 7th 2011 by Picador (first published October 1st 2011)
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James Murphy
Jul 04, 2014 James Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emily Dickinson understood the importance of bees. She begins a poem "To make a prairie it takes a clover, and one bee--" Another poem venerates the bee as part of a numinous trinity:

In the name of the Bee--
And of the the Butterfly--
And of the Breeze--Amen!

Dickinson thought bees lived irresponsible and adventurous lives.

Carol Ann Duffy also understands the importance of bees, but the cover notes of this emotion-laden volume tells us that for her they carry all the grace of the world. Bees do hav
Mar 01, 2016 averybiird rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, england, bees
4.5 stars

The Bees in this collection by Carol Ann Duffy might settle in for a whole poem or make only brief cameos in a single line or phrase and go. Other motifs include politics, myth, love, war, death, and nature, plus two touching elegies to the poet’s late mother. As British Poet Laureate Duffy has also created several poems that are quintessentially British and filled with English elms, ale and barley, county names, and even a few notable citizens (Luke Howard, Namer of Clouds).

Yet what u
Jon Corelis
Aug 02, 2013 Jon Corelis rated it liked it
Good, but not good enough

The trouble with being a poet laureate is being a poet laureate: you have to be representative of all the race, meaning both of your country and of its tribe of poets. But if you must speak for the nation, how can you speak for yourself?

I think that Carol Anne Duffy’s poetry collection The Bees must be interpreted in this context. The task facing any established mainstream English language poetry today (and that is the type of poetry I should be understood to be talking
Jun 09, 2012 Col rated it really liked it
I found this collection a bit of a bumpy ride if I'm honest. References to "bees" are not surprisingly dispersed through the book and there is a poem "The Bees" which opens the collection - and in a way that poem summed up my overall impression of the whole collection.

There are moments here that I thought were absolutely magnificent. I've little to no technical understanding, but it seems to me that when she is on her game, Carol Ann Duffy is an absolute master of her craft. The poem "The Bees"
Aug 01, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2014
I have heard of Carol Ann Duffy, as Poet Laureate she is probably the highest profile poet in the UK at the moment. But until now have never read a single poem of hers, so was looking forward to this.

The Bees is not a collection of poems just about the small insect, but the bee features in some of the poems or merely brushes by the poem. Her subjects are diverse in this collection, from the First World war to Oxfam and as diverse as the hive to snow, with several about the bees.

One thing that im
Apr 02, 2012 Nikki rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I didn't even know of this collection, which I think must show how distracted I've been lately, because I love Carol Ann Duffy's work -- and there are some glorious ones here. This is her first collection since becoming poet laureate, I believe, and it contains the poetry she wrote in that capacity -- 'Mrs Schofield's GCSE', 'Last Post' -- as well as others, with a lovely motif of bees and honey running through. There's all sorts of poetry here, poetry of loss, political poetry, poetry based on ...more
Sean the Bookonaut
Poetry can be a risk, hence my suggestion that if you are dipping your toes in for the first time, libraries (if the Neo-conservatives in you country haven’t closed them) are an excellent place to begin.

Poet Laureates of the American or English variety are also good places to start. The Bees is Carol Ann Duffy’s first book as England’s Poet Laureate and demonstrates her amazing and varied facility with form and sound.

The theme of Bees ties this collection together, but you don’t have to be a bu
Aug 20, 2014 Farhin rated it liked it
These 3 stars mean nothing.

Carol Ann Duffy is a fantastic poet and I have not rated her collection on the basis of her poetic style.
I have given this collection 3 stars because I don't yet have a grip of true British culture, despite being British myself.
There were several poems that were heavy with English/British references that I simply didn't understand which led me to not enjoying the collection overall.
However, I must emphasise that this will not be the case for all.

There were poems though
Nina Milton
Feb 16, 2015 Nina Milton rated it it was amazing
I'm still dipping in and out of this wonderful collection, but it's rarely on the bookshelf for long as I go back time and again to be reawakened and enriched by the poetry.
Lisa Farrell
Aug 04, 2015 Lisa Farrell rated it it was amazing
I love Duffy's poetry and this collection is no exception. It is witty, poignant and clever: her language choices are exceptional, unexpected and thought- provoking. Threading through this collection are stories of and images of bees, from the human bees who are used to pollenate tress to the mythical bee of the final poem, which supposedly inspires artists of all kinds. However, my favourite poem in the collection is 'Premonitions' which charts the relationship between the poet and her dying mo ...more
Jeff Hoffman
Sometimes I call myself a poet and yet I had not read a single poem by the British Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. The fact that I could say this about a fair number of significant contemporary poets doesn't make me feel exactly virtuous either, but in my defense there are so many poets now. Same number of readers, but more poets all the time, more books to feel bad about not reading. In brief, the last section of Duffy's book saved it from absolute disaster for me. From the get-go, however, I d ...more
Jun 26, 2015 thebookiemonsters rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
Beautiful collection. Adored the poem 'Water'
Lucy Williams
Oct 26, 2015 Lucy Williams rated it really liked it
It has taken me about fifteen years to reading a book by Carol Ann Duffy. This is simply because I studied her for G.C.S.E English literature and that is enough to put any one off for a long time. Well time has moved on and so have I so I revisited her poetry and below is the result.

About the author

Carol Ann Duffy was appointed Poet Laureate in 2009. She has written for both children and adults, and her poetry has received many awards.

Blurb on the back

The Bees is Carol Ann Duffy’s first collect
Charlotte Stevenson
Apr 14, 2016 Charlotte Stevenson rated it it was amazing
Of all the poets, Duffy was one of the first modern poets who reminded me that poetry is not dead but thriving. In her immensely personal style, and with epic use of metaphor if I do say so myself, this collection recounts many of the inspirational writers, such as Wilfred Owen, and responds to not only them and their poems with new interpretation, but also allows poetry to emerge from images which became famous throughout the past century. Of course there are bees who guide you through the anth ...more
Nov 24, 2015 Angelique rated it really liked it
Delightful. Beautiful use of language. I especially liked the poems about a mother-daughter relationship. I can't wait to read more of her work.
Jan 08, 2012 Helena rated it did not like it
Mercifully short and very pretty. That's pretty much where the good comments end, as usual Duffy writes more rubbish.
Aug 17, 2014 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pamela by: Book Vipers Group
Shelves: read-2014
In ''The Bees" Carol Ann Duffy has created a collection of poems filled with beautiful language and imagery. The poems cover a wide range of subjects, some dealing directly with sensitive issues such as war, death and loss, others using irony to mock and sting, like the bees that flit in and out of the book.

Duffy uses language and linguistic tools such as alliteration and rhyme with great skill. Beautiful word patterns abound - for example 'by a hermit - hair shirt, heart long hurt'. I particul
Word Bird
Jun 24, 2013 Word Bird rated it it was amazing
Quite extraordinary and strangely moving. Highly recommended.
Aug 19, 2015 Noora rated it it was amazing
I never considered poetry to be my "thing", but Carol Ann Duffy might have just changed that. The Bees is a wonderful and lyrical mix of tales, politics, love, infatuation and sadness. There is so much to be found from the pages of this collection and from global issues and environmental awareness, it smoothly transitions to love, loss and engagement. My top three favourites in this collection were 'Music', 'Cold', and 'Poetry', but there were many that came close. I am in awe of Duffy's writing ...more
Stephen Burridge
Nov 11, 2015 Stephen Burridge rated it liked it
I'm not a great poetry reader, but I encountered Duffy's poem "Last Post" in the very interesting "The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century" by David Reynolds and decided to check out this collection as well. The poems are mainly short and deal with common human concerns, not obscure intellectual subjects. The style is accessible wthout seeming casual. I found a few of the poems quite moving. I won't be rushing out to find more of her work but this book was interesting and a plea ...more
Nov 01, 2015 Mermaidrain rated it liked it
I stumbled upon a poem of Carol Ann Duffy's in an anthology at the bookstore and thought she would be worth looking up. This was the first book I could get my hands upon at the library and I was astonished to find out that she was the British Poet Laureate. As I read through this collection published in 2011, I found myself increasingly perplexed.

Her poetry is not easy to read, let alone describe. There was an awful lot of cultural reference that I could not possibly hope to understand (being an
Flavaerys Stargaryen
Oct 08, 2014 Flavaerys Stargaryen rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who already read CAD
Firstly, I appreciate the diversity of subject matter (as the blurb promises – bees themselves are a motif, of course, but they don’t actually feature in the majority of the poems) and how Duffy attempts to reflect the zeitgeist (it’s very modern and sometimes relatable), as poet laureates are wont to do. I can also respect that it was written and publicised with an environmental cause in mind.

The collection is diverse, as I said, enough so that everyone should find something they like – some of
Sep 03, 2012 Jason rated it it was ok
This newest collection from Carol Ann Duffy, Britain's current poet laureate, buzzes with possibility but ultimately falls flat. Duffy has fun with word play, rhyme, and alliteration, which makes some of the poems enjoyable to read. She lampoons English teachers in "Mrs Schofield's GCSE" to humorous effect. Her poem "Rings," written to memorialize Prince William and Kate's wedding, is quite lovely, but I had already read it before buying this volume during my vacation in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I was rather disappointed with this book, having had such high hopes and expecting something truly fantastical after the reviews on the back cover or on the Goodreads page of this book.

The title itself is rather misleading. The bee doesn't appear that much in this book and those poems which it does appear in could all have been simply put into one section and titled "The Bees". Another issue I had with this was how the poems which did hold mentions of bees felt too repetitive. It was almost alwa
Sep 14, 2013 Ann rated it really liked it
Carol Ann Duffy is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first LGBT person to be British Poet Laureate. It was a strong, daring choice--she follows that dud Andrew Motion who had been appointed over more exciting prospects after Ted Hughes' death.

Duffy's poems are said to be "accessible." That may be a put down in some quarters, but she's extremely talented and likable. This new collection is built around the subject of the bee. Duffy's bees seems to represent grace in the world; and grace is
Martin Waterhouse
Oct 18, 2014 Martin Waterhouse rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, actual-book
As any good poetry collection should, ‘The Bees’ surprises, delights, confuses, inspires, impresses, moves, vexes and mystifies - but most importantly, it contains poems that work away at you even after you’ve put the book down. That’s the point of poems, I think, to slowly unwind in your mind as you carry on with your life; to reveal parts of yourself - or the world around you - as you’ve never seen them before, and Carol Ann Duffy’s poems can do that - some better than others, obviously. I thi ...more
Nov 05, 2013 Kerfe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Duffy loves the sounds and rhythms of words. She loves naming names. She loves myth, legend, image, story.

I was especially taken with the poems in the first section, "dumb was as good as dead; better to utter". The poem this line begins, "Scheherazade", continues:
Inside a bottle, a genie.
Words were a silver thread
stitching the night.
The first story I said
led to the light.

Wonderful to speak aloud, every verse of it.

Her soldier poems stop time.
...The shadow you cast
as you fall
Dec 17, 2014 Greta rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I like the idea of poetry but not this poetry per se. Poetry is really a subjective experience, that of the author and that of the reader. The two have to connect over the imagery, the ideas, and the beauty of the written (or spoken) word. When it came to this small volume of verse, I didn't really connect with Duffy at all and I can't even tell you why. Go ahead and read it yourself and see if you do.
Nov 21, 2015 Sophie rated it liked it
As an a level creative writing student I thought I'd read this book, as I live to write poetry (not that I'm any good at it) but this book kind of bored me. Maybe it's the poems themselves. not necessarily the topics I would enjoy. I only really liked one about gcse. But you can't deny her talent as a poet and this book has given me insight into writing poetry. so over all 3 stars. I didn't enjoy the book but it gave me some insights.
Sep 22, 2014 Alexis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could give this three and a half stars--I liked this collection, just not as much as I liked _Rapture_. I think Duffy was trying to be very expansive in the poems she wrote as Poet Laureate and it didn't always serve her well. But there are still some really good ones in here.
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Dame Carol Ann Duffy, DBE, FRSL is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain's Poet Laureate in May 2009.

She is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly LGBT person to hold the position.

Her collections include Standing Female Nude (1985), winner of a Scottish Arts Council Award; Selling Manh
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