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The Bees

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  444 ratings  ·  71 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
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
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Paul Cheney
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
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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
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Col
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"
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Nikki
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
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Farhin
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
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Nina Milton
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.
Angelique
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.
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
Helena
Mercifully short and very pretty. That's pretty much where the good comments end, as usual Duffy writes more rubbish.
Pamela
Aug 17, 2014 Pamela rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pamela by: Book Vipers Group
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
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Word Bird
Quite extraordinary and strangely moving. Highly recommended.
Flavia the Creator
Oct 08, 2014 Flavia the Creator rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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Jason
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.

Too
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Margaryta
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
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Ann
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
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Trywords
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
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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
Kerfe
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.
Abracadabra.
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
...more
Greta
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.
Alexis
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.
Madison Rene'
A stunning collection of seemingly random pieces that work together in the most unusual of ways to tell a very unique kind of story. Read it cover to cover in a single day only to go back and reread it 10 more times that week. Each time you see a new perspective to each piece.
Charlotte
There are a few outstanding poems in this collection, Last Post being the most powerful. I also enjoyed Drams, giving a a vivid image of Scotland. This edition is beautifully laid out and the cover art is lovely. Not much of a reader of poetry but would be interested to read more of Duffy's work.
Jodie
I think I am finally starting to get into poetry. Maybe it is after all these years, I’m reading the right poetry.

I remember reading a Carol Ann Duffy poem at school - Education for Leisure and it was my favourite in the whole anthology. It was the one that interested everyone else the most as well. But now - they have removed it, which is a shame.

It was interesting to see Duffy’s response to this, with her poem Mrs Schofield’s GCSE. So clever. There were some poems focusing on difficult issues
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Mary Snaddon
I think I may have ordered this book by mistake. I thought it was a novel but it is poetry. Maybe I'm just not clever enough to appreciate the verse of a Poet Laureate, but I really prefer Pam Ayres.
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.
Leonard
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
Alan
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
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