by Ted Hughes
Big Poppy Theme of Transience
"Big Poppy" hinges on temporality, in a lot of ways. What do we mean by that? Well, a lot of what gets the speaker so riled up about this flower is not only that it's very pretty, but also that it's very temporary – as soon as it flowers, it's already in the process of transforming into something much darker. This theme is very much related to the theme of Mortality. They have kind of a causal relationship – the transformation, in this case from orange flower to dark green/black seed pod, is indicative (it tells us) of the plant's impending death.
Questions About Transience
- How do you think the speaker of the poem feels about the impending transformation of the flower?
- How does the poem present transformation as danger?
- Do you think that the speaker of the poem would want the poppy in flower to last forever and ever?
- How, generally, do we as a species tend to view things in nature that are very short-lived?
Chew on This
Much of the force of beauty in "Big Poppy" lies precisely in the temporary nature of the flower itself.
The flower's impending transformation into a drug for human consumption renders it dangerous and alluring all at the same time.