Aug 10, 2013

John Ciardi's "Bees and Morning Glories": Attempt Number Two

Bees and Morning Glories by John Ciardi : The Poetry Foundation



    Oops on the last post. I linked to the wrong Ciardi poem. It’s interesting that none of us seemed to notice a disconnect between my comments and the poem, or we were all being very polite. AH’s reference to Ciardi’s travels made me say, “Huh?” So I went back to the poem, where I discovered my error. Here is Ciardi’s “Bees and Morning Glories,” which I hope connects even better to what I said last time (I’m repeating it here to save you the trouble of going back).  I think “Bees and Morning Glories” has more going for it than “Lines,” but my reservations remain. What say you? 
    
     Bees and Morning Glories by John Ciardi : The Poetry Foundation

     Lines by John Ciardi : The Poetry Foundation 

    

I don’t think these purple flowers are morning glories, but they’re a rich purple, and after an hour of searching for their name, enough’s enough. 

I’m telling myself it’s more interesting that they seem to be a chorus, or at least a barbershop quartet, groups of three or four heads leaning in one direction, mouths open, as if they’re shouting at or calling to the bees. 
Singing? Calling? Yelling?

Are the bees an enemy (pirates?) attacking or are they a food or friend or mate the flowers have been begging for?

Here’s a John Ciardi poem that captures the bee, if not the flower.

The opening image might be one of those verbal wonders that re-define our notion of a thing for the rest of time. How can we un-see bees as hunchbacks in pirate pants, with peg-leg hooks? 

On the other hand, I wonder if there’s enough in the poem. After the charm of the opening and the extended simile of pirates boarding a ship, what new insights are we given? There is the theme of fleeting beauty, of transience, but I wonder how much the poem changes our lives or our understanding. Is that asking too much of a poem? Yet some poems do that. 

10 comments:

RuneE said...

Honey bees are vital for Natures well-being, and they have societies that in many ways make them behave as a single animal. Maybe that is why I fell for the little sign that said that the honey-bees have returned. Since they are soon to be put on the endangered species list, that was nice to see. And maybe a thought to have in the back of the mind when one reads about pirate's pants.

Sorry about being more prosaic than poetic :-)

Banjo52 said...

No apologies, Rune. That's a good reminder. The cover of Time Magazine just featured the bee problem too.

Ken Mac said...

Diners called Coney Islands? Hmmm.

RT 22! I used to see a gal on Rt 22, still the land if you look hard of old roadside motels, diners and such. Used to ride my bike up and down 22....ahhh, memories.

But this is Rt17S near the infamous 1 and 9, also the home of "white mana hamburgers" good catch!

Hannah Stephenson said...

I love bees-as-pirates...and flowers as barbershop quartet singers!

It's very Alice in Wonderland-esque, isn't it? Remember the bread-and-butterflies?

altadenahiker said...

That's so funny. I thought you were reading something into the poem I just failed to see.

John Evans said...

A wind-driven soul amazed by the busy bee. But not activity but sleep assured him he had not lost his way.

So easy to lose one's way. Perhaps it's good to be wind-driven and then realize that it was right.

Banjo52 said...

Thanks, folks. Very nice to wake up on a rainy Monday to such warm, interesting comments.

Ken,wasn't 22 an even more important route back in the day? Not exactly a quiet country road for biking! I too used it for girlfriend reasons--from Ohio to Pittsburgh, long, long ago.

Hannah, on Alice, I'm afraid it's been too long, though it's one of the few fantasy pieces I've liked.

Karin, I felt pretty dumb. I think I'll blame the subject again--something wrong with the link, not me. Convincing?

John, that's pretty poetic stuff of your own. Of course, it helps that I agree and relate. Once again, I think of Frost's line, "how way leads on to way."

-K- said...

When AH leaves a comment that make someone say "Huh?" its alwyas a good idea to re-think things.

Banjo52 said...

K, have you just thrown down the gauntlet? Will there be sparring? Are you charging admission? In any case, thanks for the visit.

Jean Spitzer said...

Perfect for a summer day.

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