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Big Poppy

Big Poppy


by Ted Hughes

Fashion (Clothing, Hair)

Symbol Analysis

The multiple references to a woman's body and garments in this poem develop the poppy-as-person motif, as well as add layers significance to the petals of the flower, which have already been described as various containers, flames, and carpets. Now they'll be skirts and hair as well!

  • Line 10: First reference to petals-as-skirts. The poem is pretty specific about the kind of skirt in question, too – "carnival paper." We're thinking something kind of bright and crinkly – maybe almost like the paper that party streamers are made out of, you know, the kind that you twist and hang at the prom.
  • Line 16: Another skirt reference, but this one's much darker. It's also vaguely sexual (the poppy isn't just undressing, she's flinging her clothes off). But the undressing signifies death in this case. Complicated imagery here! It's almost as if the flower is so intense that she doesn't realize that she's dying.
  • Line 22: Now, suddenly, the petals are compared to a woman's hair. That's on the other end of the body from skirts. What's up with that? Well, in a way it's actually a more accurate metaphor – the petals are at the top of the flower, after all.
  • Lines 24-26: These lines are all about the final personification of the flower as woman – first we have hair, now eyes (again, just like in line 1) and a leg. Granted, it's a sort of grotesque, incomplete image – there's only one eye, and only one leg. Weird. But those body parts are slightly metonymical. What's that, you say? Well, each body part stands in for a larger whole, that is, the whole of a woman's body to which this flower is being compared.

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