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Let the wax raise
green statues, let the honey
drip in infinite tongues, let the ocean be a big comb
and the Earth a tunic of flowers, let the World
be a cascade, magnificent hair, unceasing
growth of Beedom.

Pablo Neruda

 

Listen to the Bee Song
Interpreted by Apibardis and Amore
(If you don't have Flash in your browser you can install it here)


Bees, honey and creative expression
The bees and their honey have inspired many poets to create beautiful poems and songs ever since Homo Sapiens began keeping bees and tasted Sweet Honey. Here I would like to show bee poems created by famous world poets in the course of human history.
Thanks to Internet most of the poems on this website could be found with the help of Google.

Please send me poems on bees and honey from famous poets around the world for publishing them on this site with a mail to info@bee-hexagon.net

ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS

 

My honey! These two words are now world famous. These words are as old as the human civilization. Already in the first writen poems in human civilization honey was used as the metaphor of love.


ANCIENT SUMER

Our oldest written records come from the civilization near the river Euphrates, what is now southern Iraq. They were written on
clay tablets . In the Songs of Songs, written around 2000 BC honey was used for the first time as the synonym of love by the extatic bride of the king Shu Sin, here are excerpts from the first 5 songs:
Honey my Love

ANCIENT EGYPT

In ancient Egyptian poetry honey was used also as a symbol of love. In the few poems written between 1100 and 2000 BC and transmitted into our times honey is mentioned twice.
Read here excerpts of the book
Love Songs of the New Kingdom, by John L. Foster, 1992

Honey in Egyptian Love Poetry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beekeeping in ancient Egypt, image courtesy Kenneth Stein

ANCIENT CHINA

The book of songs (Shijing), around 1000 BC, the oldest collection of Chinese poetry there is a verse on
My Honey Pie

ANCIENT INDIA

THE VEDAS

In ancient India honey was worshiped in many scriptures.
In the Vedas, created 1000-1500 BC we find in the Rig Veda


The DHAMMAPADA
The Dhammapada are the first Buddhist scriptures, written in verse in 3 BC, based on the oral teaching of the Buddha two centuries before that. In Chapter 4 on the Flowers the Buddha teaches
Like the Bee and the Flower

KALIDASA
Later, about 400 AC the poet Kalidasa wrote the play in verses Vikromarvasie (The Hero and the Nymph). There bees and honey are mentioned many times, always in connection with love. Here is an excerpt from act  I of the play
Drunken with Honey

ANCIENT GREECE

The ancient Greeks had a highly developped beekeeping and worshiped honey in many poems.

HOMER
Homer is the first Greek poet, he wrote his works aroung 800  BC. In his Hymn to Hermes he writes about the bee priestesses Melissae, here in the translation of Miss Jane Harrison
Apollo Speaks

ANACREON
The poem about Eros and the bees is attritubuted to Anacreon 570 BC-488 BC
Eros and the Bees

EPIGRAMS
Epigrams are short poems created by the ancient Greeks. The bees and honey are mentioned about 200 times in different poems, here is a selection of 4 of them.
Bees and Honey in Epigrams
 
ANCIENT ISRAEL
was regarded as the land where milk and honey flow. In the old testament of the bible honey has been mentioned 52 times. Especially famous are
The poetic words of King Solomon about honey

ANCIENT ROME

continued the traditions of the Greeks and developed further beekeeping. The Roman poet Virgil 29 BC, wrote a big poem about the bees in his famous work "The Georgics" translated in verse by the English poet John Dryden
Bees and Honey in the Georgics

MORE RECENT HISTORY

THE ARAB CIVILIZATION

Abu Dhu'ayb al-Hudhali,  a pre-islamic poet, around 600 AD wrote descriptive poetry
About Bees and Honey

MEAD IN NORSE, GERMANIC AND CELTIC MYTHOLOGY

Mead is an alcoholic honey drink. In Norse and Germanic mythology, the Poetic Mead or Mead of Poetry is a mythical beverage made out of honey and blood with such magic properties that whoever drinks it is bestowed with the gifts of wisdom and poetry and can achieve immortality.
The poetic works of Norse and Germanic Mythology are dated back to 900 to 1000 A.D. but were recorded considerably later.
On the Mead of Poetry

In Celtic Mythology laid down the Book of Taliesen originating in the 10th century AD there is a song Kanu y Med or
Song of Mead

THE KALEVALA
The Kalevala epic poem is the national epic of Finland. It originates in early times of the beginning of Finnish history and was transmitted orally for many generations before it was written down in its present form in 1835. In this epic bees and honey play  an major role and the healing virtues of honey are worshiped
The Healing of Lemminkainen


SU SHI
1037-1101, a famous Chinese Song-dynasty poet and painter, often known as Su Dongpo, wrote
Song of the honey-eating old man

RUMI
1207-1273,  the founder of Sufism is an exquisit Persian poet, in several of his poems and sayings he links
Bees, Honey and Love

HAFEZ
lived in Persia between 1200 and 1340. Here are some examples of their poems, where honey was mentioned
Honey and Love


VIDYAPATI
1374-1448, is a famous Indian poet. In his love poems he often mentions bees and honey. Here an example of the poem
The Spring

KAMALAKANTA
1769-1821, was a Indian Brahmin priest and in his poems workships often the Brahmin Gods. In a poem on the black bee, he worships the goddess Brahmari Devi
The Black Bee of my Mind is Drawn in Sheer Delight

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
1564-1616, has used the word bee 12 times, and honey 47 times. Most famous is the speech of the Bishop of Canterburry in the play Henry V, Act 1, scene 2
The Speech of the Bishop of Canterburry


JOHN DAY
1574 – 1638 was an English poet.
His most famous poem was published after his death in 1641 was The Parliament of Bees

A Satyrical Bee Allegory

BASHO
Matsuo Basho, b. 1694, is considered to be the finest writer of Japanese Haiku. The structure of Haiku reflects the simplicity of meditative life. Here is how he experiences
The Bee

GAVRILA DERZHAVIN

1743-1816 is a famous Russian poet who wrote the famous poem
Little Bee


PHILIP FRENEAU

1752-1832, a notable American poet, called the poet of the American revolution wrote
On A Honey Bee


THOMAS MOORE
1779-1852, is a famous Irish poet and songwriter, he wrote
When the First Summer Bee

SUNTHORN PHU

1786 - 1855, is a famous Thai poet, honoured by UNESCO as a great world poet. He wrote
Two love poems with bees


VICTOR HUGO
1802 - 1885, was a famous French poet. He wrote a pamphet against Napoleon, who embroidered his cloak with bees
The Imperial Cloak


EMILY DICKENSON

1830-1886, a famous American poet, mentioned in several of her poems
The Bees


RUDYARD KIPLING
1865 - 1936, a famous English writer and poet, awarded with Nobel prize of literature wrote the poem
The Bee Boys Song


HENRY VAN DYKE
1852-1933, famous American poet and clergyman,  wrote a beatiful poem on the bees
The White Bees


ANTONIO MACHADO

1875-1939, is another famous Spanish poet who mentions often bees and honey in his poems, here an exerpt from his poem
Last Night

KHALIL GIBRAN
1883-1931, is a Lebanese poet who lived mostly in the USA. He wrote 1923 a poem about honey and the bees in his most famous poetical work, The Prophet
On Pleasure


OSSIP MANDELSTAM

1891-1938, a famous Russian poet, wrote a beaitiful poem about joy and the honey bee:
From Joy's Sake from My Hands

FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA
1898-1936, a famous Spanish poet, wrote 1918 a beautiful poem about honey, El canto del miel,
tranlsated here into English by the bee scientists David Roubik and Patricia Vit
The Song of Honey

image courtesy Heinz Koenitzer, Muehlethurnen

FERNANDO PESSOA

1888-1935, a famous Portuguese poet, wrote  a poem, "O Guardador de Rebanhos",
translated into English on www.beelore.com
God is the Hive and the Honeybees

PAUL VALERY
1871-1945, a famous French poet, wrote the poem
The Bee

NAZIM HIKMET
1902-1963, is a famous Turkish poet, wrote about his poetry linking it for ever with honey
About My Poetry

VICTORIA SACKVILLE-WEST

1892-1962, an English author and poet, wrote the poem
The Bee Master

PABLO NERUDA

1904-1973, a world famous poet from Chile and a Nobel Prize winner, wrote one of the most beatuful poems on bees, Oda a la Abeja here presented in the translation of the bee scientists Patricia Vit and David Roubik
Ode to the Bee

ALAN ALEXANDER MILNE

1882-1956, wrote in 1926  WINNIE THE POOH, about a bear and its adventures with the bees and their honey
Bears Like Honey

immage cortesy of Bill Porter, www.billporterdesign.com