The Bees, Hardback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


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 for the last surviving soldiers to fight in the First World War) showed that powerful public poetry still has a central place in our culture.

There are elegies, too, for beloved friends, and -- most movingly -- the poet's own mother.

As Duffy's voice rises in this collection, her music intensifies, and every poem patterns itself into song.

Woven and weaving through the book is its presiding spirit: the bee.

Sometimes the bee is Duffy's subject, sometimes it strays into the poem, or hovers at its edge -- and the reader soon begins to anticipate its appearance.

In the end, Duffy's point is clear: the bee symbolizes what we have left of grace in the world, and what is most precious and necessary for us to protect. The Bees is a work of great ecological and spiritual power, and Duffy's clearest affirmation yet of her belief in the poem as 'secular prayer', as the means by which we remind ourselves what is most worthy of our attention and concern, our passion and our praise.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Poetry by individual poets
  • ISBN: 9780330442442

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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 mythology... I think my favourites were 'Last Post' and 'Virgil's Bees'. There's lots of lovely lines, though, as you'd expect.

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