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Tulips

Sylvia Plath

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tulips
2001-12-06
Added by: ivor biggon
This poem is an over rated piece of work. that does not deserve the credit it gets. Its just a poem about a woman who doesnt like flowers. As with all poetry you read into it as you like.
ivor
2002-01-18
Added by: Kendra
Perhaps I'm biased because my introduction to it was as a forensics piece that I watched. That was my first introduction to Plath as a whole. Either way, this is one of my favorite poems. I suppose you could read into it, or choose to do the opposite, as the previous noter did. As I see it, it details a sick woman about to die, and those tulips are her death. The imagery in the words here take me aback. Have yet to read The Belljar...looking forward to reading more of Sylvia's work.
2002-05-07
Added by: JH Swann
To fully appreciate this poem, you really have to know about the situation Plath was writing in - it should never ever be seen as simply a poem about a woman who doen't like flowers! 'Tulips' was written after she had a miscarriage, although the hospitalisation she speaks of in the poem is for a different cause. The tulips themselves were brought by her husband, Ted Hughes. It is very hard to describe why she reacted so badly, but it was probably because she felt as though her problems were just being glossed over. Ahhhhh such a tricky bastard of a poem, but every now and then you bask in sudden realisation of its full meaning. To view every layer fully takes some doing.
2002-05-09
Added by: Martha
In addition to the miscarriage material mentioned in the previous comment, I read this as a post-suicide attempt poem (I`m not sure if it is or not, but knowing Plath`s history, I believe it likely). As such, while she recuperates from a physical trauma while still struggling with an emotional one, the tulips, similar to the hook-like smiles in the family photograph, are far too evocative of life`s vibrancy, itself, which she was attempting to escape. They complicate the blank, pure world of the hospital which she`s attempting to relate to on the most basic of levels, and she fixates on how intolerable they are to her, drawing her up to a level of consciousness which she`s not yet ready to deal with.
from a country far away as health
2002-06-20
Added by: Andrew Mayers
This is one of Plath’s most straightforward poems, although its relative simplicity seems to be beyond the grasp of master ivor biggon. Some people have something to say and some people just have to say something.
Typical of Plath is the suggestion of illness burning away sin and cleansing her. There is a deathlike but very comforting peace felt by the speaker as she relinquishes all responsibility. She is so passive that she wishes she didn’t even have to see, “Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.” (There is humour in Plath! )The numbness brought by the bright needles is welcome. She seems to achieve a temporary respite in the suspension of everyday life. This contrasts with her attitude in many of her other poems, especially ‘Years’:
“What I love is/ The piston in motion” and “And you, great Stasis --/What is so great in that!” Also not typical of Plath is the fact that there are no run-on stanzas – each one is a separate unit. Time is neatly divided up as it is in a hospital.
Her ‘dislike’ of the tulips is because their intense colour in the midst of so much sterile passivity draws her back to health and so a resumption of the battle against every day.
2002-07-09
Added by: Varun
This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!This poem sucks!
2002-07-09
Added by: Varun
Sorry for my outburst in the previous posting, but I was just so exasperated with 'Tulips'.To all those who 'read meaning' into the poem, let me ask you this- 'Does the poem convey any particular thought or idea? I view it as the ravings of a woman who believes that Tulips should be 'behind bars like some dangerous animal'?This poem finely illustrates how poets have for years been ripping us, the readers, off by writing increasingly vague and obscure 'poems' and justifying them by saying that they have 'deep meaning'.
I prefer the simple, fluid styles of Wordsworth and Frost, where every word flows into another, and whatever 'deep meaning' exists is easily comprehended after a couple of readinds.Do poems have to be difficult to understand for critics to praise them?Come on, you know better than that.
In response to Varun (or why do I bother?)
2002-07-09
Added by: Andrew Mayers
Powerful though such eloquence is, forgive me if I consider you desperately ignorant. It used to be thought that an infinite number of monkeys tapping out indiscriminately on keyboards would eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. The Internet shows this to be untrue.
The poem conveys a number of thoughts and ideas, which is why you have difficulty with it. What, precisely, do you find difficult about the poem? It is one of Plath’s most accessible. Also, who is making claims that it has “deep meaning”? It simply records her feelings. If such feelings are beyond your evidently limited capacity to comprehend them, then I suggest that you engage with something more befitting your level – like greetings cards verse or nursery rhymes.
And what does “every word flows into another” mean? Can’t the same be said for alphabetti spaghetti? Can you give some examples? Is there a more banal piece of English poetry than the following lines from ‘The Thorn’?

“I've measured it from side to side:
'Tis three feet long, and two feet wide.”

You imply that the tendency to obscurity is damaging poetry. Has it never crossed your mind (and that would indeed be a very short journey) that some poems are complex because human emotions are complex? The real enemy of good poetry is the lazy reader who has moved bag and baggage into the NOW culture that is in evidence everywhere. Everything is instantaneous, because of the move from Literature to journalism. Look at MTV, look at advertising images on television, look at anything: it is all characterised by the shallow immediacy of being brought face to face with the moment. We don't have to stop to think about anything because before we can reflect on one image, another flashes enticingly before our feed on demand gaze.

This shallow immediacy has given birth to the New Consumer - the middle-class reader, the Monet exhibition visitor, the concert-goer, whose gaze has been directed by the arbiters of taste to focus on the Market-sanctioned objects of perception and valuation. An appreciation of Shakespeare is now a widely disseminated attribute of suburbanite leisure. There is no history any more. The past is only significant if it can be used in and by the present. So we are fed images of ‘Braveheart’, of a past that is as false as it is easy to ingest. And there, at the forefront of it all is America. As George Steiner has said, "No other culture has so dignified the immanent."

By the way, what would you say to show your insights into Wordsworth and Frost? I assume we can expect such penetrating comments as, “This poem rocks!”

I’ll leave you with the words of another poet:

“Frailty of understanding is in itself no proper target for scorn and mockery. But the unintelligent forfeit their claim to compassion when they begin to indulge in self-complacent airs, and to call themselves sane critics, meaning that they are mechanics. And when, relying on their numbers, they pass from self-complacency to insolence, and reprove their betters for using the brains which God has not denied them, they dry up the fount of pity.”
A E Houseman
On the right track?
2002-07-20
Added by: Ben
Perhaps Plath resents the presence of the tulips as they were brought to her by her husband Ted. It is possible that she blamed him for her miscarriage and because of her love for him must fight with conflicting emotions. Her only way out of this situation is to disassociate herself by leaving the world behind. The injections of pain reliever are the highlight of her existance as they make her journey away FROM the world that much easier. The red of the tulips brings her back to her hospital room, their stark constrast is too much. She wishes she did not have to see and critises her sight for letting her down.
2002-09-21
Added by: mę
poems are nice. and sometimes...a great poem doesn't need to be read thoroughly...perhaps just roughly. with scanning and such. and maybe that makes something worth while.

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