"The box is only temporary," says Plath.

I have always been fascinated by Plath's bee poems, the culminating section of Ariel. They are haunting. The poems date back to the Fall of 1962, just a few months before she committed suicide. Despite the idyllic setting of Court Green in Devon where she was writing them, these poems set the tone of her "breakdown" and they also mark the incipient end of her relationship with Ted Hughes. As she writes in her diary, on October 9, 1962:

"Everything is breaking: my dinner set is breaking in half, the health inspector says the cottage should be demolished. There is no hope for it. Even my beloved bees set upon me today when I numbly knocked aside their sugar feeder, and I am all over sting..."

I have reread Sylvia's bee poems several times in the past few days and I am captured by their imagery, by the powerful metaphor of how painful the poetry craft can be.

Muse bring me a sting, I shall write...

Justin Fitzpatrick, The Arrival of the Bee Box 


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