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.

I am nude as a chicken neck, does nobody love me?
Yes, here is the secretary of bees with her white shop smock,
Buttoning the cuffs at my wrists and the slit from my neck to my knees.
Now I am milkweed silk, the bees will not notice.
They will not smell my fear, my fear, my fear.

Which is the rector now, is it that man in black?
Which is the midwife, is that her blue coat?
Everybody is nodding a square black head, they are knights in visors,
Breastplates of cheesecloth knotted under the armpits.
Their smiles and their voices are changing. I am led through a beanfield.

Strips of tinfoil winking like people,
Feather dusters fanning their hands in a sea of bean flowers,
Creamy bean flowers with black eyes and leaves like bored hearts.
Is it blood clots the tendrils are dragging up that string?
No, no, it is scarlet flowers that will one day be edible.

Now they are giving me a fashionable white straw Italian hat
And a black veil that molds to my face, they are making me one of them.
They are leading me to the shorn grove, the circle of hives.
Is it the hawthorn that smells so sick?
The barren body of hawthon, etherizing its children.

Is it some operation that is taking place?
It is the surgeon my neighbors are waiting for,
This apparition in a green helmet,
Shining gloves and white suit.
Is it the butcher, the grocer, the postman, someone I know?

I cannot run, I am rooted, and the gorse hurts me
With its yellow purses, its spiky armory.
I could not run without having to run forever.
The white hive is snug as a virgin,
Sealing off her brood cells, her honey, and quietly humming.

Smoke rolls and scarves in the grove.
The mind of the hive thinks this is the end of everything.
Here they come, the outriders, on their hysterical elastics.
If I stand very still, they will think I am cow-parsley,
A gullible head untouched by their animosity,

Not even nodding, a personage in a hedgerow.
The villagers open the chambers, they are hunting the queen.
Is she hiding, is she eating honey? She is very clever.
She is old, old, old, she must live another year, and she knows it.
While in their fingerjoint cells the new virgins

Dream of a duel they will win inevitably,
A curtain of wax dividing them from the bride flight,
The upflight of the murderess into a heaven that loves her.
The villagers are moving the virgins, there will be no killing.
The old queen does not show herself, is she so ungrateful?

I am exhausted, I am exhausted —-
Pillar of white in a blackout of knives.
I am the magician’s girl who does not flinch.
The villagers are untying their disguises, they are shaking hands.
Whose is that long white box in the grove, what have they accomplished, why am I cold.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem The Bee Meeting

20 Comments

  1. Sabeeqa shah says:

    Sylvia Plath was a sensitive lady who can not bear dishonesty of her husband and attempt suicide.She is comparing herself with bees sometime in box and on other hand killed and kicked by other bees. She is trying to express her inner feeling and sake for her husband,s love in all her poems.

  2. Hafiz Zahid Hussain says:

    “The Bee meeting” about her strangeness,vulnerability, her own coffin and confusion.it also shows the social life of village and her dealing with townspeople (as she says she is not “one of them”)

  3. Mansoor says:

    Sylvia was psychopath right from her childhood. She had suicidal tendencies.her obsessive neurosis had developed in her death wish which turned into death phobia .Causes of all these could be traced back to her sense childhood in securities her Electra complex.Her poem provides an insight into her feminist fears in a male dominated societyWith the help of the allegory of B ee meeting Plath recounts her experiences of life as a victim of male atrocities. The poem is also rich in images and symbols taken from Bee farming.

  4. Sana Rana says:

    i think this poem reflects the picture of a life of a woman in west.The glamour affairs,marriage and divorces,disloyality of male lovers and the resulting frustration everything reflected in the event narrated the poem.the queen bee is actually a woman who is replaced by another bee means other woman.Actually she is trying to share her feelings after the dishonesty of her husband TED HUGES.She is telling her own story that how she is replaced by another woman.

  5. iqra says:

    i have read this poem carefully,i think its a most difficult concept to understand,and the reason behind its that plath herself was the victom of complexity.no doubt she uses metaphysical concept in her poetry

  6. Jazib Suleman says:

    According to my point of view Sylvia Plath`s poem `The Bee Meeting` is a contrast between her inner conflict and the outer world.She could not bear the restrictions and wanted to live according to her own will.She thought that if men could wonder freely so why women could not.This poem was published in 1962 when her marriage relation with Ted Hughes came to an end, she was badly wounded by the dishonesty of Ted Hughes,it was a great shock for her which she could not afford.So the poem shows her inner sufferings,as every critic stated that she was a psychological patient which was inherited to her,but we can say that her outer experience or the adverse experience of the world made her a complete mentally ill woman.In the current poem `The Bee Meeting` she reveals her fears and frustrations which she experienced throughout her life.As Sylvia`s this sentence exposes the same fears `I am nude as a chicken neck,does nobody loves me`,further her whole poetry can be named as a `Long suicidal note`.

  7. Nawazahmed says:

    i think its about a female dilemma during the birth of her child that how she is so much sacred and did not able to comprehend the atmoshphere surrounding her
    she was exhausted to fight with her inner pain of lonliness

  8. balveer singh bhatnagar says:

    It is a very complex creation of Sylvia Plath, though she herself was a psychiatric victim but she was able to catch and read out her own unconscious metaphors of mind. It proves her intellectual superiority. The metaphors are floating over her unconscious mind and jumbled to lead a complex and unimaginable state of mind, which she turns, into a piece of art. Fears and uncertainties are her permanent ingredients. We cannot say that “the bee meeting” is a piece of wonderful work of art nor a beautiful, which gives a soothing effect on the minds of readers rather it has a stinging effect. As Plath herself is a victim of various stings which created her psychic state of mind.

    Balveer Singh Bhatnagar
    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

  9. Jonathan says:

    Say if a swarm of bees all clustered together in mid-air to form some kind of shape, say a heart, you could see clearly that its supposed to be a heart. The outline may not be distinct, but it is still a heart. Within that heart you can thousands of individuals “butcher” “mid-wife” “baker” etc., but there is a generalization, a common among the bees that she is not a part of. The idea of being unprepared, looked at clearly in the first two stanzas put you in mind of an inquisitive youth facing the embarrassment of not turning up to a birthday party in the right “smock”, and wondering “why did nooone tell me?” This supports my idea well.

    Furthering this vast concept of the bees being a generalistion of a microcosm, there is an immense pressure on Plath, or “The Queen”. It is similar to tip=toeing through a group of sleeping lions. Her painstaking emotion might upset them, and wake them, and the consequence is dire. In terms of bees this is subtly more threatening, because they are benign. Humming along like a cloud of recpetion around Plath, as soon as she breaks down she causes an environmental change – the bees will be upset and sting her.

    This has so many links. It links to advice being given as a young child when approaching bees. It links to her feelings about her family and friends, and the pressure shes under making her feel “hunted” and enduring being thought “ungrateful” in her remorse. The “exhausted, I’m exhausted” at the end shows the emotional effort and the “magicians girl” summs up the image well – that it is all one big charade.

    Plath often uses “concepts” like this. Look at Full Fathom Five and The Stones.

    I’m only 17, be kind!

  10. Maureen Jivani says:

    I read the poem as a metaphor for female circumsision. The language is charged with sexual metaphors, and violence.

  11. Sandy says:

    I’m a beekeeper so let me shine some light on some confusion. As everyone comes to show her the apairy she’s worried that no one has brought her protection. The bee suits hides everyone’s identity and no matter the roles people they become one. As the beekeepers look into the hives she’s wondering why they’re looking. She’s understandable worried that the bees can smell her fear and might sting her. Beekeepers will always look for the queen, sign of a healthy hive, and are seeing queen cells. Only 1 queen can be in a hive and will kill other potential candidates. In spring, the hive will produce other queens to swarm and beekeepers will take away queen cells in hopes of controlling swarming. I think she is exhausted from her experience and then is wondering the what mystery’s lie in the hive (white box). Of course, I could be wrong, but I enjoyed it and can relate to the experience.

  12. Ashley says:

    This is one of the only poems that i truly love. I can relate to it so easily that its scary. The only cult in this poem is society in general (hence the referece to a broad range of usually benevolent figures– the rector, midwife, and sexton). I could talk on it for hours but I will not take up that much of everyone’s time.

  13. Matthew says:

    perhaps I am being simple minded and perhaps my explaination is vague but what I have interpreted by reading “the bee meeting” and considering the era which it was written, I believe that there are several references to a “cult”, that being the KKK. i am in no way a supporter or sympathizer, just my interpretation

  14. Mona says:

    There is a typo in line twenty. The word should be voices.

  15. Sonia says:

    I’m not the best at analyzing poems, however, since I read the Bell Jar I was wondering whether “The Bee Meeting” would be referring to Sylvia Plath in the mental hospital, or any hospitale for that matter. For example, “Buttoning the cuffs at my wrists and the slit from my neck to my knees.”-that would be a nurse helping her into her hospital gown.

  16. kelly says:

    i am having difficulty with understanding thel poem also, is it about a cult? i dont think so, its obvioiusly about death and suicide as is all her poems but why does she feel the need to diguise it.

  17. Sam says:

    This poem was part of a series of three or four that Sylvia wrote to close Ariel. Her father was an insect specialist, a professor, so, in a way, these poems are closely connected to “Daddy” and the suicidal ideation and death imagery of the other Ariel poems. She did keep a hive, and it was a way of connecting back to her father, picking up his interests–the same way she attempted to learn German. I think, if you read the series together, it might make more sense?

  18. pat says:

    I disagree with Jade, who maintains there’s not too much to think about here, although I don’t see any reference, as Heather does, of a cult. Seems to me that there is much rich symbolism and imagery that provides plenty material to ponder. For me, at any rate. Besides, if a poem doesn’t give to much to think about, what’s the point? I don’t think Plath is a writer of empty poems.

  19. Jade says:

    Actually, Sylvia Plath kept a hive of her own and was apart of the Beekeepers Association of her town. This was an account of her first meeting. Not too much to think about here.

  20. Heather says:

    The poem “The Bee Meeting” by Sylvia Plath has been giving me some trouble – I don’t fully understand it. But I do believe that the last stanza has to do with the speakers death. I think that the conforming mentioned in earlier stanzas has to do with members in a colt and that the speaker is the sacrifice at a meeting.

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