Critics who have done critical analysis of bee poems including “The Arrival of Bee Box” point out that Sylvia Plath has written this poem with confidence. She knew that after completion of bee sequence poems she had become a complete and successful writer/poet. She was sure about her genius as revealed by her letter, written to her mother in October, 1962. In the letter, she wrote: “I am a writer . . . I am a genius of a writer. i I have it in me. I am writing the best poems of my life; they will make my name”. She believed that she has written the bee poems very skillfully and they would make her name. Admittedly, she wrote bee poems very proficiently yet they were not enough to give her fame. If modern world remember her then it is because of “Ariel” and “Lady Lazarus”.
Click here to read “The Arrival of Bee Box” instead of its critical analysis:
Critical Analysis of “Bee Poems” including “The Arrival of Bee Box”:
Five poems are there in “Bee poems”. In all of them, she talks about her relation with society. Moreover, there is a conflict between the world and an artist. Self realization is also common theme in them. She has written poems on bees because she has good knowledge about them, which was inherited to him from her father. Otto Plath was an entomologist, who has written many books on insects, therefore, Sylvia has good knowledge of bees. Technique of symbolism helps her in this regard. She uses bees as symbols and then conveys a message to her readers.
Critical Analysis of “The Arrival of Bee Box”:
Poem starts with the description of a bee box, which has been ordered by the poet. Initial lines of the poem reveal that the poet has not changed subject matter, therefore, it is the same in this poem too. Main idea of the poem is “death”. With the description of bee box, she starts her poem. Wooden box, which contains honey bees, has been arrived. It seems much heavy to the poet. She says that if there would be no noise, she has probably misinterpreted the box as coffin as there is no window in it. She has given an honest description of the box in starting stanzas of the poem.
Next stanza is most important and critical part of the poem when she does analysis after arrival of the bee box. She cannot see anything because of darkness. “it is dark, dark” symbolizes for darkness in her own life. She has lived a depressed life and in every poem she does not forget to mention it. These lines spread light on mentality of the poet. Symbolically, it means that when poet sees her future, she can’t see anything but darkness; there is no light in it as she has become helpless after experiencing pains of life.
Universal Symbolic critical analysis of “The Arrival of Bee Box”:
Second symbol of ” it is dark, dark ” is universal in nature, hence, it is not only related to poet’s experiences. She talks about the Negroes. Indirectly, she is talking about slave-trading or African people, who were once under colonialism. They have suffered a lot because they were being deprived from their rights. The bees are fierce and full of anger means that freedom of Negroes has been snatched from them.
Generally, she is referring to those people, who were shipped from place to place like animals. Containers, for instance, full of people were being shipped to other countries from Africa many years ago. Containers had no window but a grid. Most of the people die on the way to the destination country. Just like bees, the people were put in a box like container and were sent to other countries. “Black on black, angrily clambering” refers anger of those people.
Next lines carry on the same atmosphere. The poet cannot understand their voices despite of attentively listening again and again. Their fierce is terrific. Poet wants to free them but she can’t. She is powerless. “How can I let them out?”. She intends to free the bees and slaves but she cannot do so. She has conceptualized theme of powerlessness in these stanzas. Perhaps, she has power but she cannot use it. A comparison between power and limitation has also been shown in these lines. She wants to do something for them. Perhaps she has the ability to help them even then she cannot do their help.
Critical Analysis of Theme of “Power and Limitation” in “The Arrival of Bee Box”:
it is the ability of possessing a power but restriction from using it. For instance, a person has power to break the law but he can’t do it due to fear. Similarly, another person who can commit a sin but cannot do because of good manners or ethics. Powerlessness even after possessing a power is the name of “Power and Limitation”. This theme is beautify expressed by Sylvia Plath in this poem.
“It is like a Roman mob”. She finds that bees are protesting and they are on their right but she is “not a Caesar”. Perhaps, these are the lines, due to which, she has expected that the bee poems will make her name because, a general theme instead of autobiographical has been presented here. The poet tries her best to listen the bees and so as the confiscated people but she is not “Caesar”, who could know each and everything about them.
Critical Analysis of Theme of “Ownership” in “The Arrival of Bee Box”:
“I have ordered a box of maniacs. They can be sent back. They can die…. I am the owner.” These are very impressive lines and express the creativity of Sylvia Plath. The poet is the real owner and being owner she has every right to do anything with them. It is a universal them. A lot of meanings can be obtained from it. Let’s take an example. God is the owner of everything. He can do anything with mankind. He can give them everything or nothing. It is on Him because He is the owner.
Likewise, the owner of slaves can do anything with his slaves because he has proprietary rights. He has right to use his product (slaves were considered as property and product) in any manner. An owner can kill them; he can send them back; also he can sell them; he can free them. It is about owing the power and showing the power; “I need feed them nothing”. Whatever an owner wants, he can do it with his belongings. It is a theme, which is much complex and can only be understood with attentiveness.
Critical Analysis of Last Stanza of “The Arrival of Bee Box”:
It is a lucky day for the bees. The poet is not using her aristocratic powers over them and wants to feed them. She wants to set them free. Symbolically, she is freeing her unbearable and annoying thoughts. Perhaps, she is thinking to free her soul from the body because in next lines death is highly glorified by her. Moreover, “they might ignore me immediately. … I am no source of honey.” The poet thinks that after her death she will be ignored as she is not beneficial for anyone. She does not consider herself a valuable thing, therefore, people will not consider her precious. What may be the case, the poet fears that people will forget her soon after her death.
Conclusion of Critical Analysis of “The Arrival of Bee Box”:
The poem ends with the freedom from enslaved thoughts. The poet has conceded the power of creature and gives up on her own powers in front of them. The poem is not autobiographical but universal. After doing careful critical analysis of “The Arrival of Bee Box”, we find a number of remarkable general themes in it. This poem has not made Sylvia much famous as compared to “Ariel”, “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus” but it indeed reflects her poetic achievement.