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How to Read a Poem
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Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay
Form and Meter
Free Verse in Seven-Line Stanzas"Tulips" doesn't rhyme in any regular way. It also doesn't have a meter that it sticks to consistently. The fancy name for this kind of poetic form is "free verse."...
This one's a toughie because – let's be honest – we don't know much about our speaker at all. But let's cobble together the clues and see what conclusions we can make. We know for sure that she...
There's no doubt about it: our girl's in a hospital room. She refers to the classic white sheets, the nurses in white caps, doctors, surgery… you get the picture. It appears to be daytime, becaus...
A Flooded RiverIt's All About the VowelsThe best way to talk about sound in this poem is to jump right in the deep end, so let's take a look at the first stanza to see what we can uncover. Read the...
What's Up With the Title?
Plath doesn't exactly throw us for a loop on this one. She calls this poem "Tulips" because they are the central, recurring image in the poem – just a dozen red tulips. That's a pretty normal get...
Intense, Direct, Personal PoetrySylvia Plath's poetry is often called "confessional poetry." For our purposes, that just means that she tackles intensely personal and often upsetting subjects in a...
Base Camp (3)There are a few tricky spots in this poem, where the images come at you pretty fast and furious. Still, the main idea is clear and (we think) fascinating. So with a little help from yo...
Apparently, Plath's famous collection of poems, Ariel (in which "Tulips" was published), was named after a horse. (Source.)Plath won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1982, almost 20 years after she...
GThere are a few moments where the images get kind of lush and intense. Still, like most poems about hospitals, we're afraid this one isn't too sexy.
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