Paul Valéry

The Bee

However fine, however fell
Your barb is, blondish little bee,
What covers these tender fruits you see
Is no more than a lacy spell.

Prick the lovely gourdlike bell
Where Love is dying drowsily,
So some bit of vermillion me
To round rebellious flesh can well.

I have great need of rapid throes:
A hurt that’s live and promptly laid
Does more than agonies that doze.

My senses then be lucid made
By this minute alarm of gold,
Without which Love dies, or grows cold.


Hard pomegranates, half-open, with load
Of all your kernels yielding now,
I seem to see each sovereign brow
With its discoveries explode!

If all the suns endured by you,
O pomegranates yet half-inside,
Have caused you in a fit of pride
To crack the ruby closures through;

And crispness of the golden rind
At urging of a force behind,
Bursts into ruddy gems of juice;

A soul I had begins to picture
How these bright breaches reproduce
The secret of its architecture.


O curves, meander,
Beguiler’s hidden things,
Is there art more tender
Than these lingerings?

I know where I go.
I’ll take you by the arm.
My wrong desire is, no,
Not to do you harm . . .

{Smiling she may be
In her perfect pride;
Such freedom, though, inside,
Is real perplexity!}

O curves, meander,
Beguiler’s hidden things,
I will not yet surrender
The word that is most tender.