Challenge 427 Response
The Bee Among the Blossoms
with Bill Bowler
“The Bee Among the Blossoms” appears in issue 427.
What does the title reveal about the point of view of the narrator?
Everything. The narrator is little Donnie Giovanni. He is irresistibly attracted to all the blossoms around him, all of them. And he is insatiable. He is in a field filled with flowers and does not distinguish among them. He finds them all beautiful and loves them all equally and frantically. His hormones are raging and he can no more resist his urges than stop breathing. He can not decide from among them. He can not choose just one, for as soon as he does, he is distracted by the next, and they are in infinite supply.
Do the girls or women differ other than in name and occasional details of appearance?
No. They serve as unwitting host organisms for the narrator’s parasitic fantasies. They are She, the Eternal Feminine, mommy remembered through the veil. Who they are as individuals has little to do with the poet’s narcissistic feelings and thoughts about them. The girls are shadows, images and reflections that haunt the poet’s fevered imagination. They are “whom the angels name Lenore, nameless here for evermore...”
How do the women feel about the narrator?
This is not known nor depicted in the poems. We can only guess. :o)
What is the set of poems really about? Why might the last line be taken as irony or even sarcasm?
The poems depict the landscape of the poet’s soul, his yearning, his repetition-compulsion, his search to be understood, his isolation, his sense of irreparable loss. There’s a great deal of irony in it, but not a drop of sarcasm.
Copyright © 2011 by Bill Bowler
Thank you for the explication, Bill. It’s as valid a description of “The Bee Among the Blossoms” as I can imagine. You provide a rare example of an author succeeding equally well as his own critic.
In my experience, poetry — indeed, all literature — commonly tells us more about the authors than the authors themselves may realize. And the idea is a commonplace. But reading between the lines is extraordinarily difficult to do well; it has to proceed at the subconscious as well as at the conscious level, because the reader has so many clues to integrate.
And “Blossoms” implies as much by what is left unsaid as by what is said. The poems say relatively little about the women. Rather, the women — or girls; whatever — provide sensory cues for the narrator to talk about himself. And what does the narrator feel? For example:
- my incessant restlessness
- my insecurities
- increasingly / excessive stress
- The distant shore seemed near, / despair seemed far
- previous meaninglessness / matters less.
- I was seriously in doubt / about what things are all about
- please don’t turn your back, / don’t give my fantasies the axe / and leave me here to sink!
No one loves me. No one cares.
It’s hopeless. There’s no use.
In anxious vain pursuit,
my soul sought truth and met despair.
My broken heart’s beyond repair.
The visions of my youth
evaporated into air.
Chasing women has nothing to do with the women. Rather, we see a fugue, a mode of escape from feelings of... what? Garden-variety existential anguish? No, the narrator’s motives seem much more personal, a yearning for acceptance. But why? The “Blossoms” poems are all effect; what’s the cause? The poems don’t say. The explication may tip the poet’s hand a bit, but if it does, it shows us only one card; the rest remain hidden.