Study Guide

Big Poppy Stanza 3

By Ted Hughes

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Stanza 3

Lines 6-8

Up the royal carpet of a down-hung,
Shrivel-edged, unhinged petal, her first-about-to-fall.
He's in there as she sways. He utters thin

  • Here comes the Queen thing again – the bee climbing up the poppy petal is suddenly on a "royal carpet." Conveniently, if this is a common kind of poppy, it's also a kind of "red carpet," literally.
  • The "down-hung" bit is an image of one of the petals on the poppy having flopped down, forming a kind of ramp by which the bee can easily get to the pollen in the center of the flower.
  • The poem then adds more detail to the image of this petal – it has shriveled edges, and it's nearly about to fall right off of the flower.
  • OK, but we're back to the bee. Now the bee's made it all the way up into the flower, and is perched on the center of it. Can we just note right now (and we'll get into a little, uh, more detail later) that this imagery is getting kind of risqué? A little scandalous, we mean? There's a "he" in a "she," this flower is about to get pollinated, and there's imagery of "falling," maybe as in falling from grace…hmm. Are things getting steamy?
  • Well, check out the "Themes" section for more on this, if we've gotten you curious. But there's the bee, in the flower, and we'll deal with that last uttering thing going on in the next stanza, with the completion of the sentence.

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