By the time Plath came to write her poem "Tulips," her marriage and personal life were hanging by a thread. Her poem "A Winter Ship" foreshadows the erotic breakup between herself and Hughes, while "Medallion" shows Plath's exile from the literary establishment and her awakening as a mystic.
"Tulips" is where Plath's genius really begins to assert itself. I've written a long-ish, very scholarly essay on "Tulips" and I encourage you to read it, but expect to be challenged, as the depth of this poem is considerable.
What I want to say about it here is simply this. Consider how Plath uses the texture of "blackness" (and silence) in her early poems and how it begins to emerge after "Black Rook in Rainy Weather." What you'll see is: the notion of black moves from the basic notion of existential death to an idea of limitless creation, a la Jung's abyss. I'm not saying she brushed up on Jung; I'm saying, she stepped into an alchemical truth.
Plath needed authenticity. She saw the world around her, whether justly or not, as fake. The titles we give each other, our family connections, the literary establishment, the way we view sex and nature -- the way we view and treat animals. This artifice or mendacity as Tennessee Williams called it in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof drives the world, but it doesn't drive the poet's world.
In "Tulips" -- Plath explores what it might be like to cast off everything from family to skin and just drift in the universe as being-ness without a name or particular purpose. What she finds is holiness and spiritual fire. She finds "a peacefulness so big it dazes you" -- and though the tone of the poem is sad, or even somewhat morbid, it is truly a poem of birth.
Plath emerges from this poem and experience with a great deal of creative energy and a vision that is suitable for its consumption. Her next great poem, "The Moon and the Yew Tree," marks the point at which Plath forever moves from being a seeker to being a Sibyl -- or, as I've been quietly shouting all along -- a Melissae.
But you don't need to know all that! Just be aware that by "dying" to the demands of her persona, Plath was "born" into the great poet we all love. That's what's important!
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Poem tally as of today: 8-14-23:
Poems Written: 341
Poetry Submissions: 51
Rejections: 25 (15 tiered)
Poem written today: "Sky Slip"