The Bees
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The Bees

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  310 ratings  ·  48 reviews
The Bees is Carol Ann Duffy’s first collection of new poems as Poet Laureate, and the much-anticipated successor to the T. S. Eliot Prize-winning Rapture. After the intimate focus of the earlier book, The Bees finds Duffy using her full poetic range: there are drinking songs, love poems, poems to the weather, poems of political anger; her celebrated ‘Last Post’ (written fo...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published October 7th 2011 by Picador (first published October 1st 2011)
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Jon Corelis
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...more
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
James Murphy
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...more
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"...more
Mercifully short and very pretty. That's pretty much where the good comments end, as usual Duffy writes more rubbish.
Word Bird
Quite extraordinary and strangely moving. Highly recommended.
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...more
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...more
I've been reading Duffy's latest collection The Bees since last summer, finally reached the final poem today, and of course, now finding it a challenge to recall my thoughts on all the others, even though I made notes on each one! So this is an overall impression, and perhaps a wake up call that to get the sense of a poetry collection its necessary to read the poems in a relatively short time. I do that for long prose but not too much for poetry ... and that's worth thinking about!

Anyway, back t...more
Martin Waterhouse
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
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
Tom Romig
I wouldn't want to deter anyone from enjoying Carol Ann Duffy's poems, so I'll just say that they are not to my taste. Too abstract for me, too ethereal, too lacking in the particulars of people, places, experiences. Again, a matter of taste.
Grace Krakovic
It's great poetry that warrants 4 stars - IF she was any other poet. But from a Poet Laureate? The great and mediocre poems in one collection make this an uneven, unsatisfying read.
This is a very good book of poetry by the British Poet Laureate. Like a collection of great songs, these poems are musical, and also provocative and eye-opening. I love the poet's abundant use of proper names. I think it adds a greater riches to the sounds of poetry. I've read them, some more than once, to myself Now I'm tempted to read them again outloud to better hear what they sound like. I would like to see, available for loan in libraries, more recorded collections of poetry. This would be...more
this was a secret Santa present for Clare (my wife) and has been hanging around the house. naturally I've been dipping in, and so far enjoying the rich, complex poems - a bit like Christmas pud, stuffed with stuff, particularly clever alliteration. I don't normally like Christmas pud though. Reading a poem every now and then so may take some time to finish.

well.. I liked it but finding it hard to write about. Just read an article about Irvine Welsh and he says:Impossible to analyze poetry, you e...more
Kia Nolan
I thought I'd beed a bit hasty dismissing her when I studied her in college... on reading this I feel safe in the judgement that I just don't like her poetry
Aug 25, 2012 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Poetry lovers
Oh gee. I've been such a fan of Duffy since we were force-fed her poetry in secondary school. It's the best outcome of brainwashing ever! Heh heh.

What I love about this collection, is exactly as it says, the 'bees' make an appearance throughout, giving an overall feel of progress by coming full circle. It's like constantly coming home before being flung back out into the world again, to explore, before the bess bring you back.

I'm glad to see that her poet's muse hasn't run off since becoming Poe...more
Gillian Wray
Normally a Huge fan. This book was slightly disappointing. A few good poems but others that just didn't hit the mark.
A wonderful collection of poems. I have been a fan of Carol Ann Duffy since secondary school where our English teachers forced it upon us thinking the kids could connect with some contemporized poetry...they didn't.

This is the first collection of her poems that I have read and I was very impressed, it's a gorgeous collection and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I am not a connoisseur of fine poems but I know what I like and I liked this.

Recommended to poetry lovers, check out Last Post (which was by f...more

A lovely collection of poems by our current Poet Laureate. A theme of bees weaves through the poems touching on issues linked to nature and ecology, a sense of place, spirituality, loss, war and death. A few poems also had the mythic themes that so drew me to The World's Wife.

I am not someone who reads much poetry and I find Duffy's poetry very accessible in terms of meaning. A book of poetry isn't really something to read at the same pace as a novel or work of non-fiction. I allowed myself to r...more
Nectar slurry, pollen furry - wonderful
Stunning work.
Ni fú ni fa.
Ray Smart
Duffy's a favourite. I'm biased. Her voice gives rise to magic. Every poem has depth you can slip into, sometimes under and her words resonate months after the book is back on the shelf. There is a huge range in this new collection but the theme of bees is shot throughout with a flash of wings and a persistent drone. It gives readers an ecological treat, serving as a powerful reminder of what needs protecting in our world.
Angela Young
This is such a moving collection of poems, particularly the ones that lament Duffy's late mother. I read them shortly after my own mother died and found them consoling and heartwarming, particularly one called 'Water'. Carol Ann Duffy has said she thinks of poems as 'secular prayers'. I cannot think of a better definition for her poems, nor a better reason to read them and think about them and recite them.
Maughn Gregory
This is what you sometimes get from spending hours just browsing in a second-hand bookstore: acquaintance with a poet you will follow backward and forward in time. These poems by the UK's first female, first Scottish and first gay Poet Laureate are lighthearted, bleak, love-sick and tragic. I was amazed and moved by many of them - especially those about war, the poet's mother and bees.
The Bees was my first introduction to Duffy's work and I loved it. I particularly enjoyed The Last Post and New Vows, which both ''rewind' time and in doing so look more closely at war and marriage. The concept of a soldier rising from the battlefield, dropping his gun and going back to a cafe to eat bread with his comrades was one that stayed with me for a long time. Recommended reading.
I didn't love everything in here as much as Duffy's Selected Poems volume, but there were some really nice ones. It's more personal, solemn collection with a little less allusion, but just as much enlightening perspective. The appearance of bees as a motif throughout the collection was really nice - I loved the way that they were woven into so many different poems in different ways.
After studying Duffy's poetry for my English Literature GCSE at school, I became a fan of her writing and how she communicated controversial and wonderful meanings through a few stanzas. My favourite poems by Duffy being 'Mean Time' as well as the famous 'Medusa'. I was disappointed with this book however, finding only the minority of the poems to be remotely enjoyable for me.
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The Book Vipers: Summer Poetry Challenge - Group Read - The Bees 3 10 Jul 09, 2014 07:58AM  
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