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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 27 June 2017
Love all of this poet's writings xxx
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on 27 October 2011
I've always enjoyed Carol Ann Duffy's poetry but this slim volume of poetry has got to be one of her best collections. It is Duffy's first since her appointment as poet laureate in 2009, and it's really quite extraordinary. Images of bees are woven throughout the book. The blurb puts it best: 'Duffy's point is clear: the bee symbolizes what we have left of grace in the world, and what is most precious to protect.' The poems run along this theme and are both accessible and deep. I do think Duffy is a marvellous poet, particularly in the way she makes poetry available and relevant to almost any reader, and yet its subtlety and nuance holds up to much closer reading too.

Beautifully produced, this is a slim and well-made hardback. Its jacket is a gorgeous pale blue with the title and honeycomb design embossed in gold (is it just me, or has the dawn of the Kindle egged on publishers to make their paper titles ever more physically beautiful?!). And even the presence of honey-coloured ribbon as a bookmark is a thoughtful, perfect touch.

A very touching book. And also a pleasure to hold, and read, and look up and see on the bookshelf. A little ode to the ritual of book production and book buying - a little touch of grace on my shelf.
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on 5 April 2013
I got this from the library today, read it in 1 sitting and immediately added it to my wish list. It's my first introduction to the work of Carol Ann Duffy, and I'm fairly new to poetry altogether, but every poem made me think, made me feel something different and hinted at more layers to think of at second, third or fourth reasons. I especially liked The Falling Soldier as well as the poems about her mother such as Cold.
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on 1 December 2011
' Has the post of Poet Laureate taken the edge off Carol Ann Duffy's verse, as Andrew Motion said it did in his case? On the evidence of this collection, not one bit. She's been writing poems that have stuck in the mind for many years, and the variety and quality seems never to flag. I have the beautifully produced book - a present from my daughter - by my bedside and ration myself to two or three poems a night. Have I remembered correctly that queen bees devour their drones? An uncomfortable thought as I drift off to sleep.
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on 26 October 2015
It has taken me about fifteen years to reading a book by Carol Ann Duffy. This is simply because I studied her for G.C.S.E English literature and that is enough to put any one off for a long time. Well time has moved on and so have I so I revisited her poetry and below is the result.

About the author

Carol Ann Duffy was appointed Poet Laureate in 2009. She has written for both children and adults, and her poetry has received many awards.

Blurb on the back

The Bees is Carol Ann Duffy’s first collection of new poems as Poet Laureate. The Bees finds Duffy using her full poetic range: there are drinking songs, love poems, poems to the weather, poem of political anger. There are elegies, too, for beloved friends, and- most movingly- the poets own mother. As Duffy’s voice rises in this collection, her music intensifies, and every poem patterns itself along.

Good bits about the book

As I explained at the beginning I came to reading this book in more of a negative frame of mind then I usually start a book in. This did not last long. I loved pretty much all of her poems. My favorite was The Falling Soldier, it had some of the best lines in such as

“Worse by far. The shadow you shed

as you fall

is,brother, your soul”

Another of my favorites was Big Ask, a political poem which I shared the message. I liked the fact the poems were short with brilliant lines such as the above. If, like me, you were put through alliteration and simile lectures through her poetry at school and having to sit through her slightly Diva antics at a reading trip, do not be put off, her poetry is fab even if she quite clearly know’s it herself!

Bad bits about the book

Her poems are slightly made to be studied at school, take Bees for instance. As you have probably gathered I am not a fan of being reminded about school!

Rating for book

I give this book four out of five stars mostly because no matter how good a poet she is she could never be Maya Angelou!
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on 9 June 2012
I found this collection a bit of a bumpy ride if I'm honest. References to "bees" are not surprisingly dispersed through the book and there is a poem "The Bees" which opens the collection - and in a way that poem summed up my overall impression of the whole collection.

There are moments here that I thought were absolutely magnificent. I've little to no technical understanding, but it seems to me that when she is on her game, Carol Ann Duffy is an absolute master of her craft. The poem "The Bees" felt like a short introduction to the buzzing words to come and to the way the words had almost been drawn nectar-like from somewhere within the poet's soul to be transported to the page. And there's a real feel of the hither and thither about those first two verses - they crackle with energy and vitality. What I loved about them was the way they appeared almost like random-buzz-words and phrases on first read but on subsequent reads they feel like there's a purpose and structure and destination to all their movement and twists and activity. It was a great start but the third and final verse somehow meandered and ran out of steam a bit and that feeling pervaded throughout the collection for me. The last line of the poem "The Bees" in particular just left me feeling a bit flat and let down. It ends with the line "and honey is art." It just didn't live up to the court and spark of what had gone before - all that noise and shape petering out in what felt to me like a bit of a cliché.

However, having said that it's a bumpy ride, it's also a ride with some colossal highs. There are a several poems that I loved, particularly those where where Carol Ann Duffy is sort of unravelling time and perspective and telling something backwards. The brilliant "The Last Post" takes a couple of Wilfred Owen lines and then explicitly tries to unravel the tragedy of war. It's absolutely gut-wrenching to read because it sort of draws out the hope and promise that there might have been and yet we know wasn't to be for so many millions. She does the same sort of retrospective unravelling for a poem "New Vows" which essentially undoes the marriage vow and it does it superbly.

There are also poems where there is a real anger and ferocity to some of her words and politics is often at the end of the sharpest parts of her tongue. But she does these sorts of poems really well for me. They are never slogans but brilliantly, sometimes beautifully, crafted. I read this collection while the controversial Leveson enquiry was bubbling to the surface and it seemed so apt.

Beyond the politics and commentary on what's around her there are a couple of clever poems which really show off her talent. One is a fabulous pub-crawl and pub name check from John Barleycorn. She essentially uses pub names to craft the poem - it's really clever and it works wonderfully. I'm also seriously impressed by how many different pub names she fits in - I can't help wondering if she knows them all as drinking places - if she does then she is clearly a lover of pubs!

But the best poem in the collection for me is "Water". It's a whispered and somehow haunting description linked to the death bed request for water from someone dying in a hospice (having read a bit since it is in fact about the death of her own mother). It's sad and beautiful and yet somehow it celebrates the love of a parent and a child by noting the simple resonance between that dying request at the end of her mothers life to earlier times when her mother would have been answering that self same request from Carol Ann Duffy as a child. It was one of those poems that I know will stay with me and it's destined to be one of those I learn off by heart I think.

There are many more poems in the collection that I really liked and enjoyed reading. And while overall I found it a bit of a mixed bag, I'd still recommend it to anyone considering reading it. While "Water" is the poem I liked best, perhaps the most stunning lines are in "Cold", another poem about the death of her mother. It ends with the most heart-bursting three lines - I wept on reading them. They are beautiful, but there's almost a brutality to their beauty. They rip your chest open and wrap a fist round your heart and then squeeze. Powerful, wonderful stuff and for that reason and many others, this collection is well worth reading.
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on 25 November 2011
I loved the bronze buzz of CAD's poems -
for me, she's the most enjoyable poet around -
and some of the work here is among her best.
An elegantly produced volume, too.
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on 18 April 2014
Mature and thoughtful work. Very enjoyable and thought-provoking with her customary humour too. Pleased to find being laureate hasnt taken away the edge
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VINE VOICEon 4 October 2011
I am unashamidly a huge Corol Ann Duffy fan but this latest volume of poetry is absolutly brilliant. those of you who've read any of Duffys earlier work will know she has gone between the worlds wives letters to rapture and love poems, she now talks about everything from nature to death.
These beautiful peoms all have the theame of bees runnign through them. some are outright about bees some alude to the bees. they are a lovely metaphore for grace and very touching.
I especially enjoyed the woman in the moon.
buy it now whilst its on half price if you can, but its one of the few books I'd say is worth full price too.
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on 1 February 2014
Both filled with humour and charm, Duffy delivers again and leaves no room for disappointment. Joy to read, would buy again without hesitation.
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