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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

To a Honey Bee

By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)

[From The Poems of Philip Freneau. 1786.—Poems Written During the Revolutionary War, etc. 3d Ed. 1809.]

THOU, born to sip the lake or spring,

Or quaff the waters of the stream,

Why hither come on vagrant wing?

Does Bacchus tempting seem,—

Did he for you this glass prepare?

Will I admit you to a share?

Did storms harass or foes perplex,

Did wasps or king-birds bring dismay—

Did wars distress, or labors vex,

Or did you miss your way?

A better seat you could not take

Than on the margin of this lake.

Welcome!—I hail you to my glass:

All welcome, here, you find;

Here, let the cloud of trouble pass,

Here, be all care resigned.

This fluid never fails to please,

And drown the griefs of men or bees.

What forced you here we cannot know,

And you will scarcely tell,

But cheery we would have you go

And bid a glad farewell:

On lighter wings we bid you fly,

Your dart will now all foes defy.

Yet take not, oh! too deep a drink,

And in this ocean die;

Here bigger bees than you might sink,

Even bees full six feet high.

Like Pharaoh, then, you would be said

To perish in a sea of red.

Do as you please, your will is mine;

Enjoy it without fear,

And your grave will be this glass of wine,

Your epitaph—a tear—

Go, take your seat in Charon’s boat;

We’ll tell the hive, you died afloat.