I have been trying for a long (actually really long) time to write something about Sylvia Plath; something that she would feel proud of reading or something that would please her, something to describe how much I love her poetry. This purpose has been squeezing my brain for days. It has been difficult, not only because I cannot put into simple words the huge amounts of feelings and the empathic connections I feel whenever I am reading something by her, but also because I easily end up talking about my favourite poem, 'Tulips'. (First of all, I warn you, I talked about this to my sister and she was all like "zzZzZzZzZidon'tmind" so I am trying really hard to not make this boring, I really hope you could be as excited about this topic as I am, which is actually A LOT).
The first time Tulips' words came in front of my eyes it was last year's July and I had started to write again after I had given it up during my 13-year-old "people-will-think-this-makes-
me-a-geek" crisis, and I was looking for someone or something
which made me see clearer what I wanted to do with my writing - I am afraid I
do not know how to express myself too clearly right now, but I guess I was at a
moment when I wanted to understand my writing and realize the things I liked
and what I did not like, and the writers I could look up to and things like
that, if you know what I mean. Sylvia Plath caught my attention due to her
ability to talk about her problems, sadness and chaos. She is simple, she is
human. She writes about her scars, real life problems, and she is not ashamed. I find her writing
enormously catchy and beautiful, she does not need to pretend she is someone
she is not to write something good, she is transparent and that is enough.
Of course I do like a lot of her poems, but 'Tulips' always inspires me to an unfamiliar degree.
'Tulips' is a beautiful battle between serenity and confussion. I believe Sylvia wrote it while she was at the hospital, due to her appendicitis.
In this poem, Sylvia describes a white world, a silent world, which posseses and enormous absence. She frees herself from the responsability of having an identity (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. - and also: Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage) and describes the world in the eyes of a passive expectator; unable to connect; expressing confussion at the same time (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).
In 'Tulips', Sylvia refuses any kind of attention, represented in the form of the tulips that people send to the hospital where she is at. There are many lines in the poem that talk about how this attention disturbs her. First of all, the tulips are red, a colour that contrasts too much with white, the colour of the world she wishes to be at; this annoys her: "The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me". She states that the Tulips are changing the atmosphere of her hospital room: the walls seem to be burning, there is less oxygen; and also compares them to a great African cat and dangerous animals, by this, she does not mean that the tulips (the attention) could hurt her physically, but that they may hurt her emotionally. However, from my point of view, she does not talk about the tulips in a way that expresses fear, but something more similar to agony or disturbance. In my opinion, this is understandable when noticing the desire of not being seen or noticed that she expresses in this poem; she wants to be left untouched, weightless in her white world (I didn't want any flowers, I only wanted / To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty).
Finally, she emphasizes how far she sees health, from my point of view, she does not talk only about physical health (the appendicitis) but also a mental and sentimental tranquility.
These feelings are transmited in a way that is totally touching, that floods you into the same contradictory calm agony. It is a total masterpiece and for sure one of my favourite poems ever.
Sylvia Plath was an american writer, known mostly because of her confessional poetry. However she also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar. 'Tulips' is included in her book 'Ariel'.
And if you haven't read 'Tulips' yet WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???? Seriously, it's a beautiful poem. Click here to read it.
Well this is all, I also included an artwork I made, to make this post a bit more attractive. And if after reading this post you're interested or curious about Sylvia, read 'The Night Dances', which is another poem I have fallen in love with ("And how will your night dances / Lose themselves. In mathematics?" - I feel really cool by quoting this poem).
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you (INFINITE THANK YOUs) for reading this.
(Note: if you know about any Sylvia Plath fan club LET ME KNOW and I'll love you forever. Just kidding. No, I'm actually not kidding.)