Sunday, March 02, 2014

How doth the little busy bee . . .

This was taken maybe 20 years ago, on Kodak film, when there still were bees, in my mother's garden (illegal in her condominium complex--but that's another memory thread) in Provo, Utah.

Just this last Thursday, the man who does an annual cleanup on our yard sent his brother to trim the tall hedge between our yard and the yard to the east. While Brother had the motorized trimmer in his hand he reduced the blossoming germander, three clumps of budded-out and beginning-to-bloom Spanish Lavender and some rosemary and ceanothus "Carmel Creeper" into either small unattractive cubes or flat remnants. Heartbreak! Then he rang the bell and asked me how I wanted the ugly short hedge near the driveway trimmed. (Doesn't matter, it will still be too big and still be ugly.) No sense getting, as we used to say, one's "tail in a knot" over something without a remedy that will grow back! I think the rosemary and ceanothus might even benefit. But I had actually seen TWO bees working over the lavendar, and I had been very glad to see them. Tonight's pictured bee brought up what I've heard called a "tag-end" this: "How doth the little busy bee?? . . . " So I looked it up (Ahhh, Google!) and it is one of the instructive verses for children by Isaac Watts. Lewis Carroll parodied these verses in Alice in Wonderland (I first typed "Alive in Wonderland," which isn't bad either!) Here is Carroll's utterly superb little verse:

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 2.0

 Below is one sample of Isaac Watts's very popular didactic poems for children:

"How doth the Little Bee"

How doth the little busy Bee
Improve each shining Hour,
And gather Honey all the day
From every opening Flower!

How skilfully she builds her Cell!
How neat she spreads the Wax!
And labours hard to store it well
With the sweet Food she makes.

In Works of Labour or of Skill
I would be busy too:
For Satan finds some Mischief still
For idle Hands to do.

Isaac Watts, from the World Wide Web

NOTE: I am obliged to relate that my mother used to recite this whole poem to me to promote my industry! I supposed it worked somewhat . . . . . ..


In Books, or Work, or healthful Play
Let my first Years be past,
That I may give for every Day
Some good Account at last.

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