Bees and Beehives, from The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, c.1440.
Bees and Beehives, from The Hours of Catherine of Cleves,  c.1440. 
Utrecht, Netherlands. Pierpont Morgan Library M.945, fol.20, detail.

by Robert Herrick

AS Julia once a-slumbering lay
It chanced a bee did fly that way,
After a dew or dew-like shower,
To tipple freely in a flower.
For some rich flower he took the lip
Of Julia, and began to sip ;
But when he felt he sucked from thence
Honey, and in the quintessence,
He drank so much he scarce could stir,
So Julia took the pilferer.
And thus surprised, as filchers use,
He thus began himself t' excuse :
Sweet lady-flower, I never brought
Hither the least one thieving thought ;
But, taking those rare lips of yours
For some fresh, fragrant, luscious flowers,
I thought I might there take a taste,
Where so much syrup ran at waste.
Besides, know this : I never sting
The flower that gives me nourishing ;
But with a kiss, or thanks, do pay
For honey that I bear away.
This said, he laid his little scrip
Of honey 'fore her ladyship :
And told her, as some tears did fall,
That that he took, and that was all.
At which she smiled, and bade him go
And take his bag ; but thus much know :
When next he came a-pilfering so,
He should from her full lips derive
Honey enough to fill his hive.

Herrick, Robert. Works of Robert Herrick. vol I.
Alfred Pollard, ed.
London, Lawrence & Bullen, 1891. 86.

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