Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Monsanto, Sylvia Plath, and Bees
thousands hundreds of thousands of people will be marching against Monsanto. The fight against Monsanto is happening on several fronts. At the Federal level, a senate vote to allow states to require GMO labeling was defeated, but at the state level, Connecticut’s senate passed legislation requiring GMO labeling.
On another front, a bee keeper in Illinois is fighting allegations that his bees were infected by foul brood, but there’s more going on than just those allegations:
An Illinois beekeeper whose bee hives were stolen and allegedly destroyed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture has stirred up a hornet’s nest with his questions on why the state did this, and most importantly, what they did with his bees.
The state claims the bees were destroyed because they were infected with a disease called foulbrood.
But when the 58-year apiary keeper had his hearing—three weeks after the removal of his bees without his knowledge—the state’s “evidence” had disappeared, leaving more questions than answers about the raid on the beekeeper’s hives.
Some people, including the beekeeper, Terrence Ingram, suspect the raid has more to do with Ingram’s 15 years of research on Monsanto’s Roundup and his documented evidence that Roundup kills bees, than it does about any concerns about his hives.
Interestingly, the state’s theft targeted the queen bee and hive he’d been using to conduct the research.
Which brings us to this week’s poetry post featuring Sylvia Plath, a poet who knew a thing or two about bees:
In the autumn of 1962, only four months before her death in February 1963, Sylvia Plath wrote a cluster of extraordinary poems about Bees. She had taken up beekeeping that June and wrote excitedly to her mother in America to describe the events of attending a local beekeepers’ meeting in the Devon village of North Tawton, where she had moved with her husband, Ted Hughes, and their young daughter in September 1961. Her son was born there in January 1962. It seemed to be an idyllic setting for a perfect family life – with bees.
To read Plath’s poem, The Swarm, click continue.
Somebody is shooting at something in our town –
a dull pom, pom in the Sunday Street.
Jealousy can open the blood,
It can make black roses.
Who are they shooting at?
It is you the knives are out for
At Waterloo, Waterloo, Napoleon,
The hump of Elba on your short back,
And the snow, Marshaling its brilliant cutlery
Mass after mass, saying Shh!
Shh! These are chess people you play with,
Still figures of ivory.
The mud squirms with throats,
Stepping stones for French bootsoles.
The gilt and pink domes of Russia melt and float off
In the furnace of greed. Clouds, clouds.
So the swarm balls and deserts
Seventy feet up, in a black pine tree.
It must be shot down. Pom! Pom!
So dumb it thinks bullets are thunder.
It thinks they are the voice of God
Condoning the beak, the claw, the grin of the dog
Yellow-haunched, a pack-dog,
Grinning over its bone of ivory
Like the pack, the pack, like everybody.
The bees have got so far. Seventy feet high!
Russia, Poland and Germany!
The mild hills, the same old magenta
Fields shrunk to a penny
Spun into a river, the river crossed.
The bees argue, in their black ball,
A flying hedgehog, all prickles.
The may with gray hands stands under the honeycomb
Of their dream, the hives station
Where trains, faithful to their steel arcs,
Leave and arrive, and there is no end to the country.
Pom! Pom! They fall
Dismembered, to a tod of ivy.
So much for the charioteers, the outriders, the Grand Army!
A red tatter, Napoleon!
The last badge of victory.
The swarm is knocked into a cocked straw hat.
Elba, Elba, bleb on the sea!
The white busts of marshals, admirals, generals
Worming themselves into niches.
How instructive this is!
The dumb, banded bodies
Walking the plank draped with Mother France’s upholstery
Into a new mausoleum,
An ivory palace, a crotch pine.
The man with gray hands smiles –
The smile of a man of business, intensely practical.
They are not hands at all
But asbestos receptacles.
Pom! Pom! ‘They would have killed me.’
Stings big as drawing pins!
It seems bees have a notion of honour,
A black intractable mind.
Napoleon is pleased, he is pleased with everything.
O Europe! O ton of honey!