Fame is a Bee

Fame is a Bee

By Emily Dickinson

Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.

Summary of Fame is a Bee

  • Popularity of “Fame is a Bee”: Published in 1999 in a collection, The Poems of Emily Dickinson, “Fame is a Bee” is a short yet meaningful poem. It talks about the fleeting nature of fame. The writer beautifully draws an intellectual connection between fame and bee. It, however, has won global praise due to its unique subject matter.
  • “Fame is a Bee” As a Representative of Reality: This short and intellectual poem speaks about the bitter reality. It begins when the speaker directly compares fame to a bee. A bee has a sting as well as wings to fly. Although this poem is short and straightforward, it has a layer of meanings. For example, the writer’s intellectual thought shines in the first line when he draws a unique comparison. To her, fame is like a flying insect, implying it does not last long. Next, she compares fame to a song, which means famous people win accolades, but the glories they enjoy are often short-lived. Unlike a bee, fame travels from one place to another. Hence, she brilliantly uses the bee as a metaphor to exemplify this abstract idea.
  • Major Themes in “Fame is a Bee”: Fleeting nature of fame, wonder, and illusion versus reality are the poem’s major themes. On a surface level, the poem compares fame to a bee with a particular focus on its nature. However, on a deeper level, the poem makes us imagine the life of famous figures. For instance, a popular figure is always surrounded by followers, which to her is a song of fame. The third line says that fame stings the person’s soul. A famous person never wants to leave the glitz and glamour. Unfortunately, the bee named fame leaves him/her in search of a new hunt. Through this simple poem, the writer also talks about man’s nature. She makes us imagine how a person’s image changes in the world. At one moment, he appears as a star, while after some time, his place is occupied by another person. This is how life goes on.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Fame is a Bee

literary devices are modes that represent the writer’s ideas, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices the writers make their few words appealing to the readers. Emily Dickinson used some literary devices in this poem to make it appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ in “Fame is a bee.” and the sound of /a/ in “Ah, too, it has a wing.”
  2. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. Emily repeated the word “it” in the first stanza of the poem to emphasize the point such as;

“It has a song—
It has a sting—“

  1. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /t/ in “Ah, too, it has a wing.” and the sound of /h/ and /s/ in “It has a song—It has a sting.”
  2. Epigraph: It is a device used in the form of a poem, quote, or sentence, usually placed in the beginning of the poem to suggest the overall theme of the poem. The writer has used this device in the opening line where it is stated as; “Fame is a bee.”
  3. Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a device used to exaggerate any statement for the sake of emphasis. Emily exaggerates the standards of fame.
  4. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. The writer used this device in the third line of the poem, where she states that fame has a sting, implying it has its downside.
  5. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Emily Dickinson used imagery in this poem, such as “Fame is a bee.”, “It has a sting” and “Ah, too, it has a wing.”
  6. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. The poet compares fame to a bee in the poem, such as; “Fame is a bee.”
  7. Paradox: A paradox is a statement that may seem contradictory but can be true. Emily used this device throughout the poem. She compares fame to a bee and tries to unveil its true nature through the actions of singing, flying, and stinging. These actions show extreme paradox because all actions describe how a famous person survives in the world.
  8. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as famous, glamour, downfall, and the fleeting nature of time.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Fame is a Bee

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: The poem shows descriptive diction having rhetorical devices, symbolism, and impressive images.
  2. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. Emily Dickinson used end rhyme in this poem, such as; “sting/wing.”
  3. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. There is only one quatrain in this poem.
  4. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABCC rhyme scheme.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a highly ironic and oblique tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote in speeches and lectures and even in real-life conversations to show the fleeting nature of fame.

“Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.”