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Tulips Analysis



Author: poem of Sylvia Plath Type: poem Views: 35

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The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.

Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in

I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly

As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.

I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.

I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses

And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons.



They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff

Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.

Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.

The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,

They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,

Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,

So it is impossible to tell how many there are.



My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water

Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.

They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.

Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage ----

My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,

My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;

Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.



I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat

Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.

They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.

Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley

I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books

Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.

I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.



I didn't want any flowers, I only wanted

To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.

How free it is, you have no idea how free ----

The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,

And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.

It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them

Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.



The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.

Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe

Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.

Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.

They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down,

Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their colour,

A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.



Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.

The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me

Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,

And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow

Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,

And I hve no face, I have wanted to efface myself.

The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.



Before they came the air was calm enough,

Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.

Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.

Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river

Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.

They concentrate my attention, that was happy

Playing and resting without committing itself.



The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.

The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;

They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,

And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes

Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.

The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,

And comes from a country far away as health.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

Plath equates to being like an 'eye between to white lids', she is referring to herself being between the white hospital linen. She could be implying here that she cannot close from this vantage, she can not avoid 'taking everything in'.
(Line below the above)
Plath is ungrateful for her senses in this situation when she refers to her 'stupid pupil'. This could imply that she does not want the ability to take all of this in through her senses (something that most people are certainly very grateful for), which conveys her emotional distress.

| Posted on 2014-05-14 | by a guest


.: :.

The \'cargo boat\' represents how she has failed to fulfil her duty as a women in context of prodction. She explains that it is a thirty year old cargo boat. she also uses this symbol to expolain why she may have miscarried, at thirty she may not be in prime shape to have a child. The recurring message throught the poem is about her relationship as a women with her family and the struggle she has with her relationships. Sylvia\'s symbolic displays this concept of relationships,, with the smiling hooks representation, \'their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks\'. So the Tulips are there because? Well the Tulips are given as a gift form her Husband, they represent on a deeper level her guilt as a women. The tulips are there to remind her of failure in her relationship to deliver a child. sorry if that is hard to read

| Posted on 2011-11-09 | by a guest


.: :.

The \'cargo boat\' represents how she has failed to fulfil her duty as a women in context of prodction. She explains that it is a thirty year old cargo boat. she also uses this symbol to expolain why she may have miscarried, at thirty she may not be in prime shape to have a child. The recurring message throught the poem is about her relationship as a women with her family and the struggle she has with her relationships. Sylvia\'s symbolic displays this concept of relationships,, with the smiling hooks representation, \'their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks\'. So the Tulips are there because? Well the Tulips are given as a gift form her Husband, they represent on a deeper level her guilt as a women. The tulips are there to remind her of failure in her relationship to deliver a child. sorry if that is hard to read

| Posted on 2011-11-09 | by a guest


.: :.

How do the Nurses relate to the topic of a miscarriage? is it just that she talks of how she is alone, ignored. she is searching for anonimity (sorry for spelling)? I assume that the tulips could also upset her as it draws attention to herself where she wants to be alone. sorry if im totally wrong

| Posted on 2011-06-05 | by a guest


.: :.

How do the Nurses relate to the topic of a miscarriage? is it just that she talks of how she is alone, ignored. she is searching for anonimity (sorry for spelling)? I assume that the tulips could also upset her as it draws attention to herself where she wants to be alone. sorry if im totally wrong

| Posted on 2011-06-05 | by a guest


.: :.

However, You can not state that it was specifically about one thing or another, it can apply to a multitude of events in Plath\'s life. A poem is a combination of ideas to portray deep and meaningful imagery and information for a reader, that is the reason we analyse them do much.

| Posted on 2011-03-28 | by a guest


.: :.

Actually, sweetheart, the poem was produced because of both. In February of 1961, Sylvia Plath had a miscarriage, and while she was in the hospital, she also had to do a appendectomy.
Use of such language is a stamp on your forehead that your immature. Get your facts straight before you go trolling.

| Posted on 2011-03-03 | by a guest


.: :.

The poem was not written whilst she was in hospital after a miscarriage it was after she had her appendix out. RETARD.

| Posted on 2010-10-15 | by a guest


.: :.

Because some people like harder puzzles to solve, and some people like to make harder puzzles.
The more you work for something, the greater the reward. :)

| Posted on 2010-03-20 | by a guest


.: :.

i don't get how people can get all this information from a poem, why do people read so deeply into poems and books it silly!!

| Posted on 2009-11-09 | by a guest


.: :.

The general story behind Tulips is when Sylvia was in the hospital after a miscarriage. The poem is focused around the tulips in her room and how they disturb the serene, almost numbing effect of the ward where she is kept feeling empty. When she says;
"I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat"
she is referring directly to her miscarriage and how she is nothing more than an incompetent carrier who fails to deliver the "cargo" or the baby.
Plath also states that she did not want the flowers, that the red flowers remind her of the wound she suffered. She compares the paper around the flowers to that of the blankets wrapped around the baby, and says that the crinkling reminds her of breathing which is in direct contrast to the baby she lost.
Another way she is able to create focus on the intrusiveness is by telling us how white everything else is. Being snowed in, the white bed sheets, the white walls and the nurses looking like gulls with their white caps. This makes the image of the red tulips even stronger and more unsettling.

| Posted on 2009-02-22 | by a guest




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