The poem “Tulips” written by Sylvia Plath has very much to do with her own experience. In the poem Plath describes a female patient who seeks for peacefulness and loneliness, however the bright and excitable tulips placed in her sickroom disturbed her life. The poem is very powerful and influential, possibly not only because of the effective words used in it, but we can feel the pain and loneliness the author was suffering as well.
Plath earned her fame with her “confessional” poems, and “Tulips” is a great example.
It can be argued that Plath has recorded her life and thoughts when she was in the hospital in this poem. The poem is written in first person like an interior monologue, which is easier for the readers to put themselves into the author’s shoe and sympathize her. The tone Plath used gives the readers a feeling that there are so much emotions and pain are covered under the serene mask of the patient: “My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;/Their smile catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks” (line 20-21).
The words here have created a strange atmosphere, as if the author is describing something that happens everyday in a calm tone, yet the message behind the text is unthinkable cruel. The smiles of relatives meant to bring warmth and happiness, but here they’ve turned into cold metallic hooks that bring soreness to the author. This refers to her break up with Ted Hughes: the happy memories in the past can only hurt her more in the hospital when she’s all by herself.
From the poem we can clearly see that Plath is tired of the world she lives in and tries to rest in the peacefulness alone. “How free it is, you have no idea how free -” (line 31) shows the author can only get what she truly wants when she “lie with her hands turned up and be utterly empty” (line 30). This opinion undoubtedly proved Plath wasn’t in a natural psychological state, because usually what people seek is to find the way to avoid emptiness, whilst the author is looking for the completely opposite. “Tulips” was written in 1961, two years before Plath’s death, gives a lot of clues of the author might commit suicide “I have wanted to efface myself” (line 48) and the main reason is the author doesn’t feel being accepted by the society: “I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions” (line 5).
The tulips can be regarded as the symbol of things that can drag Plath from falling into the complete emptiness, as they kept reminding the author there are “excitable” (line 1) and “vivid” (line 49) things in life. Even the flowers’ color, red, strongly contrasts with the whiteness and coldness, the “winter” (line 1) inside the author’s heart. However, the author rejects the flowers stubbornly “I didn’t want any flowers” (line 29), most probably because accepting the flowers means she will have connections with the world again, which she didn’t want.
“Tulip” is very much like Sylvia Plath’s last confession to the world, which is very important for us to understand what the author have went through in her last years. The poem close links with the author’s life and experience, with real emotions in it and thus made it an amazing piece of literary work.