by Sylvia Plath
Stanza 7 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
- Creepy, creepy, creepy. Our speaker feels like she's under surveillance. Because she says it's a new feeling for her, we know something has changed.
- To be fair, she could just be referring to the fact that because she's in the hospital, nurses are always monitoring her physical health. But after all these tulip-related hallucinations, the line has a decidedly sinister tone.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
- The horror movie tulips are back. They turn around to face her. Can you imagine how scary it would be if the flowers in a vase turned around to stare at you? This is sounding more and more like a nightmare. We are never buying tulips again.
- Even worse, she feels the window behind her watching her, too. We're definitely not just talking about nurses here.
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
- What a subtle, beautiful way to describe what it would be like to spend day after day in the same room. She watches the sun come and go, and the patch of light it casts gets bigger and then smaller again as the sun plods its way through the sky.
- Like a lot of things in this poem, it sounds kind of peaceful, and kind of like torture, too. Life in the hospital sounds ridiculously boring.
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
- Man, is our girl down in the dumps. She feels like she looks ridiculous, as if she was nothing but the shadow of a paper cutout. Again and again the speaker's metaphorical imagination turns her into an object, allowing her to disappear, to drift off into oblivion. She's not only as thin as paper – she's actually just a shadow, practically nothing at all.
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
- The speaker is caught in her hospital bed, between the "eye of the sun" and the "eyes of the tulips." If you take this at face value, it sounds like plain old paranoid raving. We mean, you've got to be kind of nuts to feel like flowers are watching you.
- Still, we're so deep inside the speaker's head by now that maybe all this personification makes a certain amount of sense, too. These tulips are up to no good, so why not give them sinister qualities?
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
- This feels to us like a kind of riff, a free association in her mind. One word, one sound, leads her right on to the next.
- First, the "eyes of the tulips" in the last line connect to the idea of a face, and she feels like hers is gone. Okay, we can roll with that, even though the image is pretty darn creepy.
- Then she uses the sound of the word "face" to jump to the word "efface," which means to erase something, or to make something (or someone) disappear. Only it's not anyone else who's erasing her; she wants to erase herself. But why would she want to make herself disappear?
- Our hunch is that her desire to erase herself connects back to her desire to lie alone and be totally empty inside. The two sound pretty similar, right?
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.
- What an awesome line, right?
- There's something so totally frightening about flowers sucking all the air out of the room. We can feel her panic. It's not that she just doesn't like these flowers – it's that they are so bright and intrusive that she feels like they are choking her to death.
- But if you think about it, she kind of has a death wish, right? After all, she wants to erase herself entirely. So maybe the fact that the tulips are gobbling up all the oxygen is a good thing. But that's just our theory – what do you think?