Black Bee and Birdsfoot Trefoil
Emily Dickinson's Nature Mysticism : A Photo Poetic Labyrinth
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Circuit II - (14) The Murmur of a Bee (J-0155) (F-0217)

(1) The murmur of a bee  
A witchcraft yieldeth me.
(2) If any ask me why,  
'T were easier to die
Than tell.

(3) The red upon the hill  
Taketh away my will;
(4) If anybody sneer,  
Take care, for God is here,
That's all.

(5) The breaking of the day  
Addeth to my degree;
(6) If any ask me how,  
Artist, who drew me so,
Must tell!

(Edited version above as it was first published in 1890.
Below: a variation of the same poem, sent as a letter to
Susan Dickinson, and without imposed lineation or
editing, excepting: "upon" for "opun.")


(1) The Bumble of a Bee –
A Witchcraft – yieldeth me,
(2) If any ask me "Why" –
'Twere easier to die –
Than tell!

(3) The Red upon the Hill
Taketh away my will –
(4) If anybody sneer,
Take care – for God is near –
That's all!

(5) The Breaking of the Day –
Addeth to my Degree –
(6) If any ask me "how" –
Artist who drew me so –
Must tell!

~ Emily Dickinson

Commentary adapted from Emily Dickinson's Poems & Letters
(1) "To tell the beauty would decrease, to state the spell demean."
~ (J-1700) (F-1689)
(1-2) "Don't you know that "No" is the wildest word
we consign to Language?" ~ (L 562)
(1-2) "Could you tell me how to grow, or is it unconveyed,
like melody, or witchcraft?" ~ (L #261)
(1-2) "To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
one clover, and a bee, and revery. The revery alone will do,
if bees are few." ~ (J-1755) (F-1779)
(1-4) "Cupid taught Jehovah to many an untutored mind —
Witchcraft is wiser than we." ~ (L #562)
(1-6) "Life is the finest secret. . . . With that sublime exception
I had no clandestineness." ~ (L #354)
(2) "So valiant is the intimacy between Nature and her children,
she addresses them as 'comrades in arms.'" ~ (L #648)
(compare with Wisdom's Children, Luke 7:35)
(3-4) "My little balm might be overlooked by wiser eyes, you know.
Have you tried the breeze that swings the sign — or the hoof of
the dandelion — I owm 'em — Wait for mine! ~ (L #241)
(3-4) "Much madness is divinest sense to a discerning eye; much
sense — the starkest madness — 'tis the majority."
~ (J-0435) (F-0620)
(3-4) "Should I spell all the things as they sounded to me,
and say all the facts as I saw them; it would send consternation
among more than the 'Fee-bees' !" ~ (L #820)
(4) "The only Commandment I ever obeyed — 'Consider the Lilies.'
~ (Biblical ref. Matthew 6:28) (L #904)
(5-6) (speech-drawing) "Now, you need not speak, for perhaps you are
weary...but if you are well — let Annie draw me a little picture
of an erect flower; if you are ill, she can hang the flower
a little on one side!" ~ (L #269)
(6) "No message is the utmost message,
for what we tell is done." ~ (Fragment #11)
(4-6) "In the name of the Bee — and of the Butterfly —
and of the Breeze — Amen!"
~ (J-0018) (F-0023)
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