On a Honey Bee

An Electronic Edition · Philip Freneau (1752-1832)

Original Source: Philip Freneau, "On a Honey Bee." In . Edited by Percy H. Boynton. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1918.

Copyright 2002. Thist text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided

Full Colophon Information


Thou, born to sip the lake or spring, 
Or quaff the waters of the stream, 
Why hither come on vagrant wings?– 
Does Bacchus tempting seem– 
Did he, for you, the glass prepare?–5.
Will I admit you to a share? 

Did storms harrass or foes perplex, 
Did wasps or king-birds bring dismay– 
Did wars distress, or labours vex, 
Or did you miss your way?– 
A better seat you could not take5.
Than on the margin of this lake. 

Welcome!–I hail you to my glass: 
All welcome, here, you find; 
Here let the cloud of trouble pass, 
Here, be all care resigned.– 
This fluid never fails to please,5.
And drown the griefs of men or bees. 

What forced you here, we cannot know, 
And you will scarcely tell– 
But cheery we would have you go  
And bid a glad farewell: 
On lighter wings we bid you fly,5.
Your dart will now all foes defy. 

Yet take not oh! too deep a drink, 
And in the ocean die; 
Here bigger bees than you might sink, 
Even bees full six feet high. 
Like Pharaoh, then, you would be said5.
To perish in a sea of red. 

Do as you please, your will is mine; 
Enjoy it without fear– 
And your grave will be this glass of wine, 
Your epitaph–a tear– 
Go, take your seat in Charon’s boat,5.
We’ll tell the hive, you died afloat. 

Full Colophon Information

Genre: Poetry
Subjects: Early National Society and Life
Period: 1750-1800
Location: British America
Format: verse

The text of this document of originally published in 1809.

The text of the present edition was prepared from and proofed against Philip Freneau, "On a Honey Bee," in American Poetry. Edited by Percy H. Boynton (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1918). All preliminaries and notes have been omitted except those for which the author is responsible. All editorial notes have been omitted except those that indicate significant textual variations. Line and paragraph numbers contained in the source text have been retained. In cases where the source text displays no numbers, numbers are automatically generated. In the header, personal names have been regularized according to the Library of Congress authority files as "Last Name, First Name" for the REG attribute and "First Name Last Name" for the element value. Names have not been regularized in the body of the text.