Bees and Morning Glories

By John Ciardi 1916–1986 John Ciardi
Morning glories, pale as a mist drying,   
fade from the heat of the day, but already   
hunchback bees in pirate pants and with peg-leg   
hooks have found and are boarding them.

This could do for the sack of the imaginary   
fleet. The raiders loot the galleons even as they   
one by one vanish and leave still real
only what has been snatched out of the spell.

I’ve never seen bees more purposeful except   
when the hive is threatened. They know   
the good of it must be grabbed and hauled   
before the whole feast wisps off.

They swarm in light and, fast, dive in,
then drone out, slow, their pantaloons heavy   
with gold and sunlight. The line of them,   
like thin smoke, wafts over the hedge.

And back again to find the fleet gone.   
Well, they got this day’s good of it. Off   
they cruise to what stays open longer.   
Nothing green gives honey. And by now

you’d have to look twice to see more than green   
where all those white sails trembled   
when the world was misty and open   
and the prize was there to be taken.

John Ciardi, “Bees and Morning Glories” from Person to Person (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1964). Used with the permission of the Ciardi Family Publishing Trust.

Source: The Collected Poems of John Ciardi (University of Arkansas Press, 1997)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet John Ciardi 1916–1986

Subjects Time & Brevity, Nature, Living, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

 John  Ciardi

Biography

To millions of Americans, the late John Ciardi was "Mr. Poet, the one who has written, talked, taught, edited, translated, anthologized, criticized, and propelled poetry into a popular, lively art," according to Peter Comer of the Chicago Tribune. Although recognized primarily as a poet and critic, Ciardi's literary endeavors encompassed a vast range of material. From juvenile nonsense poetry to scholarly verse translations, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Nature, Living, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.