Alda Merini, “I am a furious little bee”

For Laura Garofalo and Catherine Rogers

“I am a furious little bee”
Alda Merini

I am a furious
little bee.

Italian original:

Sono una piccola
ape furibonda.


We know bees do their duty for the sake of the hive. They buzz: we realize rumor goes hand-in-hand with public opinion. The things that bind us as a people can work against that unity. Not so with bees, it seems.

Still: what makes this bee furious? It’s almost comical to think of someone as a bee ready to sting any potential challenger, even though bees can die from the very act of stinging something with thick-enough skin. It’s almost comical when compared with Dickinson’s comparing (herself?) to a “daffodil” in regards to her efforts.

Maybe it was rumor that made the bee furious. But “little” could have another significance. The very order of the hive might be felt a constraint. Do your job, create that honey everyone else enjoys, be seen as a “little bee” with one’s anger or docility considered irrelevant.

I don’t know the poem is necessarily a feminist statement, although I do read it that way also. It is some kind of general but powerful self-assertion. My own thought is that this bee’s buzzing sends messages horizontally and up the chain-of-command. No idle gossip or complaining about daily tasks at this point. Anger is a sign of injustice. Something is being communicated, loud and clear.

1 Comment

  1. When I read this I too got the feeling that she was trying to communicate some kind of injustice within the community….I wonder what …? But then again Alda Merini’s aphorisms are great because they leave a lot to the imagination and can be related to different experiences.
    Never thought of it in a feminist way…maybe because the “bee” didn’t give me the idea of “feminine”…but your commentary got me thinking!

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