'The Murmur of a Bee' by Emily Dickinson

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The Murmur of a Bee
A Witchcraft-yieldeth me-
If any ask me why-
'Twere easier to die-
Than tell-The Red upon the Hill
Taketh away my will-
If anybody sneer-
Take care-for God is here-
That's all.The Breaking of the Day
Addeth to my Degree-
If any ask me how-
Artist-who drew me so-
Must tell!

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Murmur of a Bee by Emily Dickinson: A Literary Analysis

Have you ever heard the murmur of a bee? That low hum that fills the air and seems to vibrate through your very being? Emily Dickinson, known for her poignant and often enigmatic poetry, captures this sound and feeling in her poem "The Murmur of a Bee." In this literary analysis, we will dive deep into this poem, exploring its themes, symbolism, and style, and seeking to understand the message that Dickinson was trying to convey.

Background and Context

Before we dive into the poem itself, it is important to understand a bit about Dickinson's life and the context in which she wrote. Born in 1830 in Massachusetts, Dickinson grew up in a prominent and religious family. She was well-educated and began writing poetry at a young age, but lived a relatively reclusive life, rarely leaving her family's home in Amherst. Despite this seclusion, Dickinson wrote prolifically, producing nearly 1800 poems in her lifetime, although only a handful were published during her lifetime.

Dickinson's poetry is often characterized by its unconventional punctuation, capitalization, and syntax, as well as its use of metaphor and symbolism. Her work is deeply introspective and explores themes of death, nature, spirituality, and the human condition.

"The Murmur of a Bee" was likely written in the late 1850s or early 1860s, a time when Dickinson was producing some of her most well-known and celebrated work. It was not published until after her death in 1886, when her sister Lavinia discovered her vast collection of poems and had them published in multiple volumes.


Let's begin our analysis of "The Murmur of a Bee" by first examining the poem itself:

The Murmur of a Bee
A Witchcraft -- yieldeth me --
If any ask me why --
'Twere easier to die --
Than tell --
The Red upon the Hill
Taketh away my will --
If anybody sneer --
Take care -- for God is here --
That's all.

At only six lines, this poem is deceptively simple, yet it contains a wealth of meaning and symbolism that we will unpack below.

Symbolism and Imagery

One of the most striking aspects of this poem is the imagery and symbolism that Dickinson employs. Lets take a closer look at some of the most significant symbols and what they might represent:


The symbols and imagery in this poem work together to create several overarching themes that are common in Dickinson's poetry. Here are a few of the most significant:

Style and Structure

In addition to its symbolism and themes, "The Murmur of a Bee" is notable for its style and structure. Here are a few elements worth exploring:


"The Murmur of a Bee" is a fascinating and enigmatic poem that is rich with symbolism, imagery, and meaning. From the mysterious and magical quality of the bee's murmur to the power of nature and the invocation of God, Dickinson explores a number of themes that are common in her work. As with many of her poems, there is no one "correct" interpretation of this piece, but rather a multitude of possible meanings that depend on the reader's own experiences and perspective. Regardless of how one chooses to interpret it, however, there is no denying the power and beauty of Dickinson's words, and the way they capture the elusive and mysterious aspects of the world around us.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Murmur of a Bee: An Analysis of Emily Dickinson's Classic Poetry

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works continue to captivate readers with their depth and complexity. One of her most famous poems, The Murmur of a Bee, is a prime example of her unique style and ability to convey profound ideas in a few simple words.

The poem begins with the line, "The murmur of a bee, a witchcraft yieldeth me," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The use of the word "witchcraft" suggests that there is something magical or mysterious about the sound of a bee, and that it has the power to enchant or bewitch the speaker.

As the poem continues, Dickinson describes the bee's flight path, saying that it "draws across my frame a line / of limitlessness sublime." Here, she is suggesting that the bee's flight is not constrained by the same physical limitations as humans, and that it is able to move freely and without restriction. This idea of limitlessness is a recurring theme in Dickinson's work, and it speaks to her belief in the power of the imagination and the human spirit to transcend the boundaries of the physical world.

The next stanza of the poem is perhaps the most famous, and it reads:

"His little hearthside, snug and warm, Seems far too cool for him; The whims of Juno must be served, The lofty ones aloof for him."

Here, Dickinson is using the bee as a metaphor for the human experience, and suggesting that even the smallest and seemingly insignificant creatures have their own struggles and challenges to overcome. The bee's "little hearthside" represents the comfort and security of home, but even this is not enough to satisfy its desires. Instead, it must venture out into the world and face the whims of fate, represented here by the goddess Juno and the "lofty ones" who are beyond its reach.

The final stanza of the poem brings everything together, as Dickinson writes:

"His helmet, now, shall make a hive His palace is his grave. His epaulette is of fur, His pomp, a few seeds to save."

Here, she is suggesting that the bee's life is both grand and tragic, as it builds its home and kingdom only to die within it. The bee's "helmet" and "epaulette" are symbols of its strength and power, but they are ultimately meaningless in the face of death. The bee's "pomp" and "seeds" are all that remain of its legacy, and they are a reminder of the fleeting nature of life and the importance of making the most of the time we have.

Overall, The Murmur of a Bee is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that speaks to the human experience in a profound way. Through the use of metaphor and imagery, Dickinson is able to convey complex ideas and emotions in a few simple words, and her work continues to inspire and captivate readers to this day. Whether you are a fan of poetry or simply appreciate the beauty of language, this classic piece is well worth a read.

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