Where the bee fucks

“Where the bee sucks, there suck I,” said Ariel when he was, at last, free to sing of his Oneness and Interconnectedness with Nature. From Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest.

In its exploration of the consequences of the imposition of power, the play is chaotic, contradictory, magical, distressing and ultimately hopeful. However, there’s the rub because the language, as so often with Shakespeare, is vague though it be weighty with connotations.

Bees thrusting their long tongues into the sexual organs of flowers in order to gather nectar for their sustenance and to assist plant reproduction have long been recognised as sexual imputations. Less well known is the connection between the bee’s foraging and one of the most prolific modern-day swear words.

The text of The Tempest or The Tempeft, illustrated here made use of the soft s which was written as an f until mid-18th Century. Yes, yes, the crossbar was missing but it still has the appearance of an f and many were the japes we had as schoolboys transposing Ss for Fs and vice verfa. To be absolutely clear, the seedier meaning of the word, suck, was as obvious to us then as it has always been to pre-pubescent boys barely post extrication from Mother’s breast. However, in consideration of the alternative word created by substituting the soft s of suck for an f, whilst we were aware of the meaning, not in any biological sense, but rather in the way of a locker room joke which we thought we should understand but didn’t and sniggered anyway.

All we really knew of the word was in the context of being asked rather forcefully to depart and never darken the door again.

In my case it took a further seven years to become acquainted with its more interesting interpretation.

So, there we have it, Shakespeare invented the “F” word. Which is hardly unbelievable in this parallel universe where fake news, fake fact and fake fakery exist harmoniously within multiple simultaneous hallucinations of mirages of illusory parallel quasi-dopplebiscuits propagated in the fertiliser of the most prolifically delusional and conceited orange wig wearing, crocodile smile bearing weirdo ever to get smacked up on his own ego.

Yeah, talkin’ about you, Trump.

© Rod McRiven 2019


  1. P.S.: Wanted to add, in regards to our fake tanned shitgibbon leader, I was thinking he is the perfect example of American “Exceptionalism”. It is all fake. Many like to say we are the leaders of the world, influencing around the globe except our president doesn’t influence, or signal, to white supremicists around the globe. In other words, we influence only the good, not the bad, because we are exceptional.


  2. When I was an undergraduate working on my degree in English Lit, I took several Shakespeare classes even beyond what was required because I simply fell in love with his plays and poems. I remember for one class, early on, I had to read the passage you mention as part of a presentation and, because of nerves, my brain signaled my mouth to say ‘fuck’ instead of ‘suck’. This of course elicited a few gasps and titters from the class and I expected a stern response from my professor.

    Instead, she turned to the class and said, basically, this is Shakespeare. The decision to use certain words to be both vague and bawdy were highlighted, she said, by my slip of the tongue and, she believed, would delight Shakespeare. I don’t know if it would delight Shakespeare or not but it is one of the reasons I loved his writings so much, his ability to have so many layers in each line astounded me.


    1. I am so sorry to take so long to reply to your interesting memory. If by some twist in the Universe it ever became possible, Shakespeare is one of those people I would be terrified to meet but also incredibly excited. He is inspiring for sure and, in turn, he took much of his inspiration from mediaeval Latin lyrics and poems which I also feel proximity to. I really hope you are well and your hangover from celebrating the calamity that was Swamp has abated . . . Peace from Exmoor in the UK.


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