2.4 How Doth the Little Busy Bee – Isaac Watts
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 labors hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.
In works of labor or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.
In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed,
That I may give for every day
Some good account at last.
The poet wonders as to how the little honey bee is so busy, how it becomes more energetic, and works even harder as the day goes by. He also wonders how it is able to gather honey all day long moving from flower to flower.
The poet tells us that the female honey bee skilfully builds the cells inside the honey comb. She neatly spreads the wax, makes honey from the nectar and works hard to store it well.
Being inspired by the busy bee the poet too wants to be like it. So he says that whenever he has to do some work or show his skill, he will be busy doing it. For he feels that, otherwise Satan will try to influence the person who is idle and make him do something mischievous. Here, it reflects the proverb, ‘Idle mind is a devil’s workshop’.
The poet wants to spend his childhood days, reading books, working and playing healthy games. He wants to be able to pass with flying colours in whatever he does. So that whenever he has to give an account of what he has done, he will be able to give a good report of all that he has done.
shinning hour: day time; when the sun is shinning
labor hard: work hard
sweet food: honey
idle hands: people who do not do any work
healthful play: playing healthy games
first years: childhood days
Rhyming scheme: abab
Answer the following questions:
Q1. What is the poet wondering about?
Q2. For how long is the honey bee, busy?
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