Winner of the Costa Book Award
The Bees is Carol Ann Duffy's first collection of new poems as British poet laureate, and the much anticipated successor to the T. S. Eliot Prize—winning Rapture. After the intimate focus of the earlier book, The Bees finds Duffy using her full poetic range: there are drinking songs, love poems, poems to the weather, and poems of political anger. There are elegies, too, for beloved friends and—most movingly—for the poet's mother. As Duffy's voice rises in this collection, her music intensifies, and every poem patterns itself into song.
Woven into and weaving through the book is its presiding spirit: the bee. Sometimes the bee is Duffy's subject, sometimes it strays into the poem or hovers at its edge—and the reader soon begins to anticipate its appearance. In the end, Duffy's point is clear: the bee symbolizes what we have left of grace in the world, and what is most precious and necessary for us to protect. The Bees is Duffy's clearest affirmation yet of her belief in the poem as "secular prayer," as the means by which we remind ourselves of what is most worthy of our attention and concern, our passion and our praise.
"A golden honeycomb of a collection, buzzing with energy, pity, passion and perceptiveness about what makes us human . . . It is clearly the work of the great poet of our time."—Amanda Craig, New Stateman
"[Duffy] has such remarkable gifts as a poet of grace, dexerity and clarity, And there are poems here that are unforced and beautiful: gifts."—Kate Kellaway, The Observer
"As always in [Duffy's] poetry, the mythic and mundane work in tandem . . . These poems align tenderness and virtuosity, heart and craft, with all the accessible authority that Duffy has made her trademark."—Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
"Wonderfully varied . . . [Some poems] will sting you to tears. The elegies for [her] much-missed mother are the most moving poems in the whole book. ‘Cold' will stop your own heart for a moment. Duffy is brazen enough to write words such as ‘besotted,' ‘smitten' . . . and to bring it all off brilliantly."—Liz Lochhead, The Guardian
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Carol Ann Duffy reads a poem
Carol Ann Duffy recites Premonitions, a poem from her new collection The BeesShare This