ODE TO BEES
by Pablo Neruda
Multitude of bees!
In and out of the crimson, the blue, the yellow,
of the softest softness in the world;
you tumble headlong into a corolla to conduct your business,
and emerge wearing a golden suit
and quantities of yellow boots.
The waist, perfect,
the abdomen striped with dark bars,
the tiny, ever-busy head,
the wings, newly made of water;
you enter every sweet-scented window,
open silken doors,
penetrate the bridal chamber of the most fragrant love,
discover a drop of diamond dew,
and from every house you visit you remove honey,
rich and heavy honey, thick aroma,
liquid, guttering light,
until you return to your communal palace
and on its gothic parapets
deposit the product of flower and flight,
the seraphic and secret nuptial sun!
Multitude of bees!
Sacred elevation of unity,
Buzzing, noisy workers process the nectar,
swiftly exchanging drops of ambrosia;
it is summer siesta in the green solitudes of Osorno.
High above, the sun casts its spears into the snow,
land stretches endless as the sea,
space is blue,
but something trembles,
it is the fiery heart of summer,
the honeyed heart multiplied,
the buzzing bee,
the crackling honeycomb of flight and gold!
purest laborers, ogival workers,
fine, flashing proletariat,
perfect, daring militia
that in combat attack with suicidal sting;
buzz above the earth’s endowments,
family of gold, multitude of the wind,
shake the fire from the flowers,
thirst from the stamens,
aromatic thread that stitches together the days,
and propagate honey,
passing over humid continents,
the most distant islands of the western sky.
let the wax erect green statues,
let honey spill in infinite tongues,
let the ocean be a beehive,
the earth tower and tunic of flowers,
and the world a waterfall, a comet’s tail,
a never-ending wealth of honeycombs!
- Margaret Sayers Peden translation