Sylvia Plath Bee Sequence Ariel Poetry Development Endurance Self-recovery Identity The poems which Sylvia Plath composed in the weeks and days immediately preceding her death contain some of the most disturbing themes present in Modernist poetry. In Ariel, an anthology containing her most fervent, emotional, and troubling poetry yet, poems such as "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus" appall readers with their frank references to death, suicide, mental instability, and the slow, agonizing erosion of the self.
In the poem, all the villagers but her are protected from the bees, and she equates this partial nudity with her condition of being unloved. In the symbolic marriage ceremony which follows, a rector, a midwife, and she herself—a bride clad in black—appear.
She seems to remember that even the arrows which Eros used to shoot into the ground to create new life were poisoned darts.
And just as her search for a Divine Father was tempered by her fear there was none—that God would be nothing more than, say, the Wizard of Oz, a little man with a big wind machine—so, too, her search for consolation from her earthly father creates an intensity of consciousness in which she no longer has any guarantee of security.
Eros for her is ever accompanied by the imminence of death. Certainly every mythology relates the sex act to death, perhaps most clearly in the tale of Tristan and Iseult. In nature, the connection is even more explicit: Always the male bee dies after inseminating the Queen. It is also associated with female fertility and reproductive power.
Beekeeping becomes an analogy for the writing of poetry, which, while playing on the Platonic figure of the bee-poet possessed by divine insanity, as described in the Ion, implies a craft, a specialized practical skill or expertize.
Yet if on one level the poems can be seen as forging a personal mythology of survival, on another their dreamlike logic of displacement and condensation resists narratives of self-realization anchored in a stable notion of the subject.
This alternative narrative logic manifests itself through a mobility of identification, which generates various uncanny effects. In particular, the scapegoating or sacrificial trope undergoes a number of psychic and narrative permutations.
In the Bee Poems, the governing metaphor of beekeeping inserts the dynamics of the father-daughter transference into a social and historical continuum. The beehive is a classical figure of the polis as hierarchically ordered, industrious collectivity, in which the common and private good are as one.
Yet it is also a rich source of paradox and contradiction. It is, also, of course, an authoritarian society. The hive allows the poet to assume multiple and constantly changing points of identification—including those of beekeeper, queen, and worker-drudge—in a psychic theatre, signalled by a pervasive imagery of clothing.
Who are these people at the bridge to meet me? They are the villagers— The rector, the midwife, the sexton, the agent for bees. In my sleeveless summery dress I have no protection, And they are all gloved and covered, why did nobody tell me?
They are smiling and taking out veils tacked to ancient hats. She identifies herself with the scapegoat, the Queen Bee who is in the process of being moved to another hive by the villagers to prevent the virgins from killing her. The rhetoric of innocence, naivety, and vulnerable nakedness is a masquerade which allows her to assume the central role in the drama.
This surrealist triangulation is inscribed within a logic of wish fulfillment or fantasized revenge. The punitive stinging of the interloper is followed by the climactic revelation of the Queen Bee: They thought death was worth it, but I Have a self to recover, a queen.
Is she dead, is she sleeping? Where has she been, With her lion-red body, her wings of glass? Now she is flying More terrible than she ever was, red Scar in the sky, red comet— Over the engine that killed her— The mausoleum, the wax house.
It is a masculine figure, the beekeeper, who exploits and regulates the labour and raw materials of the hive, and the fertility of the Queen Bee, for the production of a commodity. How instructive this is! O ton of honey! In the Bee Poems, equivocal attempts to imagine a female collectivity are intercut with fantasies of individual martyrdom, usurpation, and revenge.
But the dimension of protofeminist allegory announced by the trope of the matriarchal community remains essentially tentative and undeveloped, less a conclusion than a question.
The text appears as the product of social as well as individual energies. In an ironic rewriting of her New Critical apprenticeship which saw the poem as self-referring verbal microcosm or autotelic objectwhat emerges from the Bee Poems is a view of the poetic text as at once psychically and historically overdetermined.
While the Bee Poems also draw on the resources of surrealism, they resist the psychological determinism of the earlier de Chiricoesque landscapes for a more dynamic vision of the relation between the psychic and the figurative.
At the same time, all myths of power, whether individual or collective, are seen as fissured by internal contradictions and therefore as ultimately self-defeating.
The Bee Poems represent the most complex and sustained instance of the oracular metaphor through which, as we have seen, Plath explores the technical resources of her craft and the range of possibilities available to her as a poetic initiate.
Although the oracle is always linked with scenes of instruction and discipleship, its burden, from the outset, is the return of the repressed.Plath's bee-keeping, at least as it is re-presented in the Ariel sequence, appears to have been a way of coming to terms with her own female position in the cycle of the species.
Sylvia Plath was born on October 27, in Boston, Massachusetts and committed suicide on February 11, after suffering from depression for many years.
She was a great American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. In February, , Sylvia, also at Cambridge University, wrote in her journal about one young man she knew there: his ego is like an unbroken puppy He flies socially, from girl to girl and party to party and tea to tea (25 Feb.
). ‘Apprehensions’(BL ), on the Path of Temperance in the World of Yetzirah, shares its title with a poem Sylvia wrote and dated 28 May (SPCP - 6).
Both poems reflect the multiple meanings of ‘Apprehend’, dealing with fear of approaching dangers; with things grasped by the mind, whether real or imaginary; and with arrest: both the need to stop these dangers in their tracks and prevent them .
The first poem in the bee sequence, then, introduces the societal pressures Plath confronts in her private life, as well as in her art form. However, in "The Arrival of the Bee Box," a stronger, more self-assured Plath emerges, as she "orders" her own kind of poetry and begins to develop as her own kind of artist.
Dec 07, · Sylvia Plath’s poem "The Arrival of the Bee Box" Introduction Plath was finally sure of her genius in mid-October , just after completing the Bee sequence, when she wrote to her mother that she was ready to start a new life: “I am a writer.