Sunday, November 16, 2014

Poem of the Day: "Tulips" by Sylvia Plath, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poetry Review Poem of the Day for November 16, 2014 is "Tulips" by Sylvia Plath, Poet of the Month.  The text of the poem may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178974.  A biography of Ms. Path and references may be found here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-songs-of-eretz-poet-of-month-for.html.

"Tulips" is organized in nine free verse stanzas of seven lines each.  There are four to five feet per line and occasional rhymes, near rhymes, and end-line assonances and consonances.  Complete sentences, some enjambed, are used, lending a narrative quality to the piece.

The speaker of the poem is in a white hospital room, so white that "it is winter here."  The narrative speaks of nurses coming and going, their ministrations compared to seagulls on the wing and to water washing gently over pebbles.  The speaker or patient is isolated but revels in the isolation, finding it purifying and relaxing.  She wants only to "be utterly empty," to escape from the outside world.

The tulips, probably a get-well-soon gift, serve as a jarring reminder of the outside world.  Their redness and allusion to spring sit in sharp contrast to the whiteness and winter of the hospital room.  Worse still, their intrusion reminds the speaker perhaps of people whom she would rather not remember, of people, perhaps close family, whom have caused her pain.  The tulips are compared to "an awful baby" perhaps literally as well as figuratively, further compared to "dangerous animals" that perhaps might literally and figuratively consume her, and even further to parasites that weigh the speaker down and suck the air out of the room.

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