Our Harvest Festival was performed on Tuesday 16th October, and again on Wednesday 17th October. The service was a mixture of the spoken and the sung word. The singing was harmonious; the poetry recited with eloquence and vitality. This year the theme was the honey bee. Both Harvest Festival performances were memorable.
For so work the honey-bees
At the beginning of Henry V is Shakespeare’smost famous and most extensive apicultural metaphor. In this scene, the Archbishop of Canterbury attempts to convince the young king that he has the right to the throne of France and that his country can support a military venture to take that throne while also protecting security at home. An important part of Canterbury’s argument hinges on the beehive as a metaphor for a rightly ordered kingdom.
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king and officers of sorts;
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home,
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad,
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer’s velvet buds,
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent-royal of their emperor;
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold,
The civil citizens kneading up the honey,
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate,
The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum,
Delivering o’er to executors pale
The lazy yawning drone.