'Wonderful... Duffy is a poet alert to every sound and shape of language. Whether writing sonnets, eclogues, elegies or love songs, she is attuned to the hum of nature, angered by what humans are doing to it, in awe of what two hearts can feel' --Mark Sanderson, Sunday Telegraph
'Wonderfully varied... Here's a mixter maxter of every kind of Duffy poem: angry, political, elegiac, witty, nakedly honest, accessible, mysterious. Here are the willed, the skilled, the passionate ecological pleas and exhortations, the other voices, the lists and litanies, and, above all, the lovely lyrics of longing and loneliness and sorrow laced with ephemeral moments of almost-acceptance, lightness and grace. [Some] will sting you to tears. The elegies for that much-missed mother are the most moving poems in the whole book. "Cold" will stop your own heart for a moment. Duffy is brazen enough to write words such as besotted, smitten...and to bring it all off brilliantly. To float like a butterfly, sting like a bee' --Guardian
'The bees of Duffy's title recur throughout the book, announcing the poet's devotion to her vocation and her mastery of it... Gusto strains against sorrow, both general and particular... The tension created by these darker tones tests Duffy's confidence and makes her moments of levity more poignant, delivering poems that are sparer, purer and often more musical than ever before' --Financial Times
'[Duffy] has such remarkable gifts as a poet of grace, dexterity and clarity. And there are poems here that are unforced and beautiful: gifts... "Water" is perfectly controlled, yet written with what could almost be mistaken for casualness. It carries its emotional weight effortlessly. It acknowledges three generations, needing one another in ordinary ways. The "parched" at the end is beautiful and unlaboured. In every sense, it holds water' --Observer
'Duffy's publishers have done her proud with this handsome volume... Recent poets laureate seem to have found that the honour has a dismal effect on their poetic powers, but on the evidence of this lively volume, Duffy's muse is still on fine form' --Daily Mail
'Compassion and empathy are prevalent... Suffused with keen perception and insight, it's a resonant collection taking in ecology, spirituality, politics, love and more. Duffy displays the breadth of her subject matter and talent throughout'
`Arguably her most interesting book since Mean Time. The best pieces here are concise, with a rich musical authority that brings some poems close to song' --Sean O'Brien, Sunday Times
`Poetry is too often overlooked in favour of novels and celebrity biographies; Duffy's first new collection as Poet Laureate reminds us just how wonderful the form can be.... This beautifully presented volume is eloquent, simple, and (seemingly) effortlessly moving' --Diva magazine
`If Rapture was an imposing display of Duffy's virtuosity and versatility, those same qualities are repeated here with fresh abundance and a sense, too, that Duffy as again remaking herself as a poet... This is a magnificent collection of shimmering lyric poetry by a poet who can move from spare to opulent language without any attendant discord. Every word matters in a Duffy poem, and every poem is "a spell if kinds,/ that keeps things living in the written line"' --Irish Times
`A golden honeycomb of a collection, buzzing with energy, pity, passion and perceptiveness about what makes us human despite the appalling things we do to nature and each other. It is clearly the work of the great poet of our time and so exquisitely produced in blue and gold that it makes an ideal gift' --Amanda Craig, New Statesman
`Duffy is spearheading the current surge in poetry's population. Her book sales are going through the roof, her staged readings regularly sell out and her latest collection, The Bees, is shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards.... [Carol Ann] strides off into the night. Nobody bows or curtsies but I have a feeling that one day they might'
`Beautiful and moving poetry for the real world' --Guardian
`Characteristically clear-spoken and anti-metaphysical, it offers the reader much more than simply a collection of "public" Laureate poems. Its sense of joyous freedom is deeply refreshing' --Independent
'Superb... a masterclass in how public poetry can reanimate the personal' --The Times
The Bees is Carol Ann Duffys first collection of new poems as Poet Laureate, and the much-anticipated successor to the T. S. Eliot Prize-winning Rapture. After the intimate focus of the earlier book, The Bees finds Duffy using her full poetic range: there are drinking songs, love poems, poems to the weather, poems of political anger; her celebrated Last Post (written for the last surviving soldiers to fight in the First World War) showed that powerful public poetry still has a central place in our culture. There are elegies, too, for beloved friends, and most movingly the poets own mother. As Duffys voice rises in this collection, her music intensifies, and every poem patterns itself into song. Woven and weaving through the book is its presiding spirit: the bee. Sometimes the bee is Duffys subject, sometimes it strays into the poem, or hovers at its edge and the reader soon begins to anticipate its appearance. In the end, Duffys point is clear: the bee symbolizes what we have left of grace in the world, and what is most precious and necessary for us to protect. The Bees is a work of great ecological and spiritual power, and Duffys clearest affirmation yet of her belief in the poem as secular prayer, as the means by which we remind ourselves what is most worthy of our attention and concern, our passion and our praise.