El Rey de las Abejas / The King o the Bees / The King of the Bees

Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash

Carlos Llaza: Bees are admirable. Not only are they able to make food for humans, but they work tirelessly to do so. This poem draws a parallel between poets and bees, and how they respond to their distinctive callings.

Dorothy Lawrenson: This is one of my favourite of Carlos’s lyrics. Writers have to take themselves seriously, but perhaps every poet has those family members who look on indulgently, humouring this strange compulsion. Are some of those polysyllabic lines a symptom of the speaker’s grandiloquence, in his role as ‘autoproclamado Rey de las Abejas’? If so, the Scots’ relative pithiness (sometimes halving the number of syllables in a line) brings him a little more down to earth. At the same time, he seems to have the last laugh. I especially identify with the aspiration to write poetry that might serve as ‘food fur the fowk’.

Scroll down to see a video of poet and translator reading this poem, with English subtitles.

El Rey de las Abejas
por Carlos Llaza

Aquel verano
me propuse criar abejas
en el jardín de la casa.

Cada mañana leía libros
y manuales sobre el tema
para durante el almuerzo

convencer a mis padres y hermano,
de que yo era el Elegido,
autoproclamado Rey de las Abejas.

Recuerdo las miradas
de lástima, sonrisas
cómplices y clandestinas.

Hoy trazo la dulzura
de los primeros zumbidos,
hexágonos de lumbre

sobre la página:
la compulsión por trabajar sin descanso
en busca del néctar

que haga de la forma
una lámpara de cera, y del sonido
alimento para humanos.

The King o the Bees
owerset intae Scots bi Dorothy Lawrenson

Thon simmer
Aa’d a mind tae keep bees
in oor gairden.

Ilka mornin Aa’d read buiks
an papers on the subjeck
sae that at denner

ma parents an brither wad ken
that Aa wis the Chosen Yin,
self-cried King o the Bees.

Aa mind thur luiks
o peety, thur canny,
saicret smiles.

The day, Aa scrieve the sweetnins
o thon first bizzin,
hexagons o licht

on the page:
the need tae tyauve wi’oot stint
in search o nectar,

tae mak o the form
a lamp o wax, an o the soond
food fur the fowk.

The King of the Bees
translated into English by Carlos Llaza and Dorothy Lawrenson

That summer
I decided to keep bees
in the garden of our house.

Each morning I read books
and manuals on the subject
so that during lunch

I could convince my parents and brother
that I was the Chosen One,
self-proclaimed King of the Bees.

I remember the looks
of pity, conspiratorial
and clandestine smiles.

Today I trace the sweetness
of those first buzzes,
hexagons of light

on the page:
the compulsion to work tirelessly
in search of nectar,

to make of form
a lamp of wax, and of the sound
food for humans.

One comment

  1. If only more of us saw the world through the writers’ (translator’s) eyes
    we’d all be merry and bright.

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