winter_beesWatching the snow swirling madly this week, Robert told me his father’s grade school had always read a poem about winter bees over the intercom when the first snow of the year fell.  This morning I went looking for it, finding only beekeepers bemoaning the loss of bees over the winter, or discussing how best to winter bees.  Also a wonderful Andrew Wyeth print of winter bees. 

Finally, I said to myself  “Ah – it’s poetry.  Let’s try ‘bees of winter’.”  And voilá, up came The New York Times from 19 Dec 1887, when newspapers were more poetic than today:

“The half-shut door of Autumn was closed with a bang Saturday night by a boisterous southwest wind, and a swarm of what Bayard Taylor called the wild white bees of Winter fell upon the city, stung her inhabitants, and covered the ground with a fleecy garment nearly six inches thick.”

With the name of the poet, I quickly found the whole poem.


The valley stream is frozen:
The hills are cold and bare,
And the wild white bees of winter
Swarm in the darkened air.

I look on the naked forest:
Was it ever green in June?
Did it burn with gold and crimson
In the dim autumnal noon?

I look on the barren meadow:
Was it ever heaped with hay?
Did it hide the grassy cottage
Where the skylark’s children lay?

I look on the desolate garden:
Is it true the rose was there?
And the woodbine’s musky blossoms,
And the hyacinth’s purple hair?

I look on my heart and marvel,
If Love were ever its own, —
If the spring of promise brightened,
And the summer of passion shone?

Is the stem of bliss but withered,
And the root survives the blast?
Are the seeds of the Future sleeping
Under the leaves of the Past?

Ah, yes! for a thousand Aprils
The frozen germs shall grow,
And the dews of a thousand summers
Wait in the womb of the snow.

Bayard Taylor 1860

If that isn’t enough, for his complete works, see Google Books, The Poems of Bayard Taylor.