Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE QUEEN-BEE FLIES, by LEONORA SPEYER



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THE QUEEN-BEE FLIES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: High on the breeze flies the virgin-queen of the hive!
Last Line: With your low, slow song, praising -- praising -- eternity-long!
Subject(s): Bees; Insects; Beekeeping; Bugs


High on the breeze flies the virgin-queen, queen of the hive!

Across the calm of skies and the cool of trees -- she flies -- she flies --
swifter than all the others -- and they follow, the passionate bees.

Over the green-gold stretch of wheat and rye, tangled and tied in the blue of
vetch, over the riot of brown-gold brook and the quiet of brown-gold road -- see
the glint and gleam of her and the speckled cloud of drones in the cloudless sky
as they chase and dream of her!

Hear the hot fierce song of the drones, the melody of their fevered wings --
they stagger and fall, weaklings, despised --

They shall not know her, these crawling louts of the honey-comb!

For she has been fed on a flower-brewed wine, lore of the hive, store of the
hive, she has been fed and bred a queen, she has piped to the bees in the dark
of her cell and heard them answer, running, swaying, dancing, drumming, honey-
drunk with the joy of her coming!

Straight as a tiny bird and as swift, flies the virgin-queen, queen of the hive,
and after her all that are fleet of wing --

Only they that are fleet of wing.

Only the strongest of all shall wed her,
Whirl with her,
Swirl with her,
High in the air,
Mate with her,
Mix with her,
Clasp and cling,
Fly with her,
Die of her,
There on the wing!

And out of the sky she slips like a falling star -- for the flight is over --
out of the sky drop the drones --

Out of summer she slips into summer again, briarrose, daisy and blue-eyed
grasses, honey-sweet cluster of pink-sweet clover -- the flight is over, the
queen-bee passes!

Back to the hive now, bride and widow and queen, mother of all the hive to be --
and the drones follow after, reverently -- the drones follow after, all save
one.

There is a murmuring in the comb, a sound of singing in the honey-comb: the
workers welcome their quickened queen:

There is a roaring in the comb, a sound of shrilling
in the honey-comb: the workers sting to death the
useless drones.

For she will give to the hive its race, worker and drone as she will -- lover of
honey or lover of queen -- she, the mother of all the hive.

But never again the flight! The mad, gay flight through the heart of June --
never again -- never again --

The queen-bee flies but once.

Does she remember that whirling hour of sun and green and love and death? Does
she remember the song of the drones, the song of the swiftest drone of all, who
dared to fly with her, dared to conquer her --

Dared to die of the pang supreme?

After the flight, the long, long night of the hive. The queen-bee gives to the
hive its race, worker and drone as she will, she seeks new hives as the old
hives fill -- four summers, five summers perhaps -- and then,

She knows the final flight of all.

La reine est morte! Vive la reine!

Vive la reine -- high on the breeze flies the virgin-queen, the gold-winged
queen -- she flies -- she flies -- swifter than all the others -- and they
follow, the passionate bees.

Autumn stands in her wide, warm meadows, russet grasses and bursting thistle,
fern and aster and golden-rod -- where still a thousand, thousand bees buzz at
the cup of summer's lees.

Carmelites of June! Build high those patient, waxen temples -- they shall
endure! Fill them with the honey-souls of flowers, like sweet saints in their
niches -- fill them with the golden dew of summer -- with a rapturous worship in
the fragrant dusk of your celibate-cells --

With your low, slow song, praising -- praising -- eternity-long!





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