Poppies in July Analysis

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Poppies in July

Background
1. Poem wrote during the breakup of her marriage
2. Feelings of numbness and despair
3. The only way she can see that she exists or escaping this numbness is through pain or becoming drugged. Poem
Title
Suggests beauty and happiness but contrasts greatly with the content of the poem. Is she questioning if there is any beauty or happiness in the world. Line 1-2
By referring to the poppies as ‘hell flames’ she is showing that she is in a negative frame of mind. Asking if they do any harm seems to be Plath looking for pain. Line 3-4
The fact that she cannot touch the poppies shows that she has lost all feeling (numb physical/emotional). By putting her hands ‘among the flames’ shows that she desires pain. Plath does tell us that her hand does not burn. Emphasise on the fact she cannot feel here. Line 5-6

Referring back to the title the flowers should inspire happiness and beauty but they exhaust Plath. We have a notion here that she is weary with the world and it holds nothing for her anymore. Like in other poems Plath uses shocking imagery and compares the flowers to a bloodied mouth. This shows her desire for some sort of pain to show herself that she can in fact still feel. Lines 7-8

The poppies continue to remind her of blood and pain. We are to be unsettled by the fact she associates the flowers with violence. Line 9-10
Here Plath moves to the desire for a drugged state. This shows her desire to escape if she can not feel. The use of the word nauseous can work on a couple of levels. If Plath cannot sleep in a drug induced state then maybe the sickening effects of the flowers will help her feel, however violent it may be. Line 11-12

Again she repeats the desire for pain or sleep rather than be as she is. Again here she asks for pain but we have to look at the word ‘marry’ and ask if she uses this word to represent her failed marriage.
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