What is an analysis of the poem "Telling the Bees"?

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"Telling the Bees" by John Greenleaf Whittier tells the tragic story of a lost love.  However, the subject is not immediately apparent upon first glace.  Rather, the poem starts out with a lot of concrete imagery that creates a very peaceful agrarian setting: an old wall, stepping stones in a brook, and a house.  The first hint of the true focus occurs with the description of the house, "with the gate red-barred."  The color red traditionally suggests love or danger, or both.  Whittier goes on to mention poplar trees, which are associated with the Greek god Hades, the Ruler of the Underworld and the Lord of the Dead.  But again, this is a subtle nod to the tragic nature of the poem, and the poet quickly shifts the focus to a barn and cattle, as if to keep the reader from focusing too deeply, too quickly.

The third stanza introduces the beehives, finally giving the reader a glimpse at where the poem draws its name.  The custom of "telling the bees" was popular in England and...

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