"... And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes/ Its bowl of red blooms out of the sheer love of me..." This excerpt from Sylvia Plath's poem, "Tulips" describes how Plath's body would not give way, even though she feels as though her soul is dead. Plath's life long depression stimulated the very personal themes in "Tulips" and "Stings". Within each, there lays pieces of sadness and anger, which Plath succumbed to by committing suicide at 30. Plath's indignant tone combined with colorful images of her own hatred and despair capture the reader and brings one to an understanding of the mentality behind Plath's works.
The first stanza in "Tulips" discusses the numbness the speaker is embracing while she lays "learning peacefulness" in the white hospital room. Finally, she can relax, pressure free, and "have nothing to do with explosions." Her daily obligations to husband and child are suspended, and she has left herself to be tended by the nursing staff.
Early in the poem, namely the second stanza, there are signs of the narrator's fleeting mental tranquility. The speaker analyzes her situation, as being "...an eye between two white lids that will not shut." The serene atmosphere relaxes her body, but her brain still feverishly "take[s] everything in." While lying immobile, she notices how the nurses are nameless like her, and are simply going through the motions of life "the way gulls pass inland".
The image of a pebble, in stanza three, parallels the woman's inability to physically move because of the "bright needles" that sedate her body, but not her mind. The picture of a happy family photo, once again, brings the speaker back to a conscious state of misery. The repercussions of the "smiling hooks", which latch through her heart, continue...