‘The Beach’ Dún Laoghaire Co Dublin

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

Dún Laoghaire (Irish pronunciation: sometimes unofficially spelt using modern Irish orthography as Dún Laoire, is a suburban seaside town in County DublinIreland. It is about twelve kilometres south of Dublin city centre. Dún Laoghaire is the county town of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown county and formerly a major port of entry from Great Britain. From 1821 to 1921 it was officially called “Kingstown”.

29th June 2012. Marie-Therese

I live half an hour away (by bus) from Dún Laoghaire. So, instead of heading towards town this afternoon, I took the 46A bus in the opposite direction out there for a change. It was such a glorious day, and I’d also been promising myself to go to DL someday soon considering it was only a stones throw away. I didn’t have far to walk after getting off bus to find this very delicious scenic view.

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

When I arrived at the promenade area where the boats are kept, I instantaneously got a sudden sense of Déjà Vu. I reckoned it must have been triggered off from the time I first took the boat to England as a young teenager. I wouldn’t have been that very long out of Goldenbridge, after being involuntarily returned there from Switzerland some months prior to then. I went with Christine, a girl, who was also in the institution. Christine was one of the lucky privileged inmates to have been sent to the outside national /secondary school. So with me having gained outside knowledge of Continental Europe and her wisdom from having attended the outside school we were certainly a perfect institutional duo to venture off from this very sedate scenic harbour to the vast unknown expanses of the English world. We had only six pence between us.

I was also transported back to a sea-side, which I think, could have been either Dollymount or Sandymount strand. Am not sure which one exactly? Anyhow, I went to the strand frequently during the Summer months, as a child when out on licence from Goldenbridge industrial *school* to the Boyne host family. I can still smell the sea-weed and visualise the throngs of local day-trippers to the strand. It was not very far from Boyne St. I remember some few short years later hearing about a near neighbour of the Boyne’s who was accidentally drowned. He was a boy of twelve/fourteen years old, called Earl. It sent shockwaves through the close-knit community. The strand was a wild and glorious place. I remember lapping up the freedom from having been cooped up in an industrial *school*.

29th June 2012

The smell of sea-weed would have brought back those memories. The strand I went to as a child would have had a similar strong sea-weed smell, and likewise with here one could get its waft for miles around.

29th June 2012 Marie-ThereseA very pleasant young man told me that this particular part is colloquially known as the beach area.

29th June 2012 Marie-ThereseThe sea / sky are such a beautiful contrast. It was such a glorious day.

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

There were starlings galore in the spot up above feeding on insects beneath the dried sea-weed. Every now and again they would fly off in formation into the air, and then hang out on nearby branches of thin delicate trees of sorts. I’m so thrilled with this one! It’s so funny! It appears as though the wee one with the mouth wide open is giving out yarns. I thought at first they were young pigeons because of the oil-slick colour. Oh, wait! Do I spot a downy plumage on the one with the yellow beak? if so, it could possibly be the offspring of the superior looking one?

RTÉ Radio One, Mooney Goes Wild, School Watch

Starling: Sturnus vulgaris (Latin name) – Druid (Irish name)
One of the commonest birds to visit the garden in winter and one of the loudest, starlings are capable of a variety of calls and are very talented mimics. Both male and female starlings can mimic human speech. They can also imitate the song of many other birds. Although common today their numbers have decreased somewhat due mainly to intensive farming methods that have reduced insect numbers on farms. They form large flocks in winter and feed in these flocks. This allows a greater protection. A thousand pairs of eyes see more than one pair! Also if a predator arrives the take off of such a large number of birds confuses the predator and may just help the starlings escape. Ploughed fields is a good place to see such a flock of starlings.

29th June 2012

It looks like mother is exhausted listening to the rantings and has turned the other cheek.

Continuation: On starlings from RTÉ Radio One, Mooney Goes Wild, School Watch

Starlings feed mainly on insects, but will willingly visit your bird table and bird feeders. They can be very aggressive towards the smaller birds, the sparrows and tits and the large numbers of starlings visiting your garden often frightens away some of the smaller visitors. They also take a lot of plant foods, including soft fruits and seeds.

In 1949, a large group of starlings landed on the minute hand of Big Ben in London and actually stopped the clock! In 1960 a plane taking off from Logan Airport in Boston, America, crashed just after take off after flying into a flock of up to 20,000 starlings.

In 1890, a wealthy drug manufacturer, Eugene Schieffelin, released 60 starlings into Central Park, New York and another 40 in 1891. It is thought that he wanted to establish all the birds mentioned by Shakespeare to America. Unfortunately, the number of starlings has grown to excess of 200 million and at the expense to the native American species. Starlings have done very well by taking advantage of human settlements.

29th July 2012 Marie-Therese

I was glad to have brought the Panasonic Lumix camera with inbuilt camera lens with me. I was thus able to truly test it out. It is by no means a professional camera, but rather an ideal one for family outings. It’s really good for close-ups of one’s immediate surroundings. Trust me though, to try to put it to the ultimate test. See: into the farthest distance where buildings meet the sea. Then look at next photo:.

29th June 2012

This is a slightly more close-up one! If one looks beyond the sea into the far off centre distance one can see Martello Tower and the famous Forty Foot where people go swimming on Christmas day. Eileen Bastible-Kavanagh an artist relation of mine would have lived in the vicinity of Sandycove where MT is situated.

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

Wait for this – I couldn’t believe it that I was able to hone in on the actual tower itself. I was gobsmacked! This tower is synonymous with James Joyce. See: Forty-Foot to the left to boot.

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

Wow! This one is even better again of the Martello Tower. I couldn’t believe my eyes that I had taken such a fantastic shot with my camera from such an enormous distance. Blimey, it even picked up the people out enjoying themselves in the sun. The houses could be private residences, as it looks like that to me?

29th July 2012

Here’s another close-up view. I’m absolutely stunned to think that I was so far away and ended up with this clear picture.

29th July 2012 Marie-Therese

This is a good one as well. It puts me in mind of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film The Birds, except that these birds are small and the setting is different. Not threatening in any way.

The starlings are generally a highly social family. Most species associate in flocks of varying sizes throughout the year. A flock of starlings is called a murmuration. These flocks may include other species of starlings and sometimes species from other families. This sociality is particularly evident in the their roosting behaviour; in the non-breeding season some roosts can number in the thousands of birds.

Read more here at Wiki.

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

Yeah, I’m quite at home amongst the rocks, having spent an inordinate amount of time when walking amongst them from Battle to Hastings to St. Leonard’s and Bexhill, during my one year stay in East Sussex in the long distant past.

29th June 2012

This is another phot that reminds me of the very strong pungent sea-weed aroma of long ago.

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

I saw a pink boat way out at sea. So I put camera to the test once again. The second result is what you see in the next photo.

Yeah, not bad at all. I just love the contrasting colours of the sea.

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

This was the final result. If I had a Canon 6000 I would have got the name of the boat. To the left there were a lot of yachts anchored. I asked a friendly young chap with a Canon 6000 with additional expensive lens, who was taking photos of Martello Tower why did he think the solitary was boat stuck out in the middle of the sea. He said that it was probably waiting for room at the bay, as it was very busy. I’m proud of the close-up shot of this very handsome ship. My cousin, Mary-Lou and her mother – originally from Southampton, as well as being horse-mad – are big-time into yachts. They’ve gone around the globe in same. I thought of them as I gazed out at the boats on the harbour, as the environment would have been to them a second home. Think Wales… if you look beyond the pale blue horizon.

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

Here is the harbour.

This facility must be a temporary haven for the life-boat folk.

29th July 2012

The boys wanted a photo for their Facebook account, so when their friend took a photo with his iPhone, I too seized the moment. The young lad is pointing out to sea.

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

Judging from the current economical climate of the country, I do wonder will the lads above be going the same route as one of them is pointing towards – which happens to be Wales – as in all likelihood did their ancestors? I too took the boat in days of yore.

29thJune 2012 Marie-Therese

This is Stena Ferries departure home. There was not a stir about the place at all?

29th June 2012 Marie-Therese

I enjoyed taking these photos. I hope too there are viewers out there who will like them?

As I was heading towards the 46A bus to take me to Donnybrook I saw this really lovely vintage jeep. It has not got an Irish registration. Perhaps it’s used for carrying boat gear?

To round off the photos I’ve added this one. It’s lovely to see the birds in their natural habitat. This starling looks as though it is a teenager shedding its baby feathers and taking on the mantle of an adult. I’m only speculating here, as I’m not a connoisseur on birds.

This is a similar one. I note how they blend in with their surroundings. They can so easily camouflage themselves against potential prey.

Continuation of RTÉ Radio One, Mooney Goes Wild, School Watch

In Ireland the starling is often referred to as the “stare”, especially for young starlings who do not yet have the glossy green and purple plumage. In fact, the adult’s striking beauty is often overlooked. Stare is in fact the diminutive form of starling. A group of starlings has many collective nouns, including “a constellation of starlings”, “a filth of starlings”, “a murmuration of starlings”, “a scourge of starlings”, and a “vulgarity of starlings”. In Ireland it was believed long ago that an ounce of starling dung, mixed with alum and white vitriol (Zinc sulphate) would cure afflictions ranging from ringworm to herpes!

Starlings build their nests in holes and under the eaves of buildings. The nest is made of straw and lined with moss and feathers. Four to seven eggs are laid and incubated for 13 days. The young fly after about 3 weeks. There are generally 2 broods from April to July.

I like this one as well. Come to think of it, I saw poppies in full bloom along the main N11 bus route nearby UCD.

And this last one of Stena Ferries, which was the first photo I took after arriving to Dún Laoghaire. One can travel to Holyhead on the HSS Stena Explorer Fastcraft from Dún Laoghaire with a ferry crossing to Holyhead from 120 minutes. I’ve travelled this route so many times in the past. It can be very overwhelming for first time travellers out of Ireland. Everywhere else in comparison seems so huge. It can be a wake-up call for unseasoned-travellers. Ireland is so tiny and one can become very insular and sheltered if one does not think about what lies beyond the blue horizon. This spot has a strong emigration history. I would recommend Dún Laoghaire and its environs to all visitors who come to the Emerald Isle. [My next port of call will be Bray, then on to the medieval Glendalough monastic sites. They’re only a short distance away in Co Wicklow].


Abortion Adverts in Dublin

I was very much puzzled by adverts I saw on buses in town. So, after trying desperately to get some decent photos of same as they drove through O’Connell St. I gave the whole thing up as a bad job. So, decided googling instead to see if some more light could be shed on subject matter.

Low and behold. I discovered this article in the Huffington Post UK | By  Posted: 18/06/2012.

A Pro-Life campaign rolled out in Dublin promoting the idea that abortion “tears lives apart” has attracted strong criticism for increasing the shame and stigma attached to the issue, with the nation’s advertising watchdog receiving scores of complaints.

Hundreds of the adverts, designed by pro-life group Youth Defence, have appeared on billboards, buses and the louas, Dublin’s tram service.

The two styles of poster, one featuring the face of a distraught woman…

and another showing a foetus sucking its thumb, are emblazoned with the phrase ‘Abortion tears her life apart. There’s always a better answer.’ The pictures appear torn in two in echo of the campaign’s message.

Now that I come to think of it, I vaguely remember seeing this advert recently in Henry St., and being concerned about it. I also remember RCC conservatives handing out terrifying abortion pamphlets in the past, and connected the two together.

Not only are the pictures torn so as to bring home a message, but actual billboards have been defaced completely.

Frances Ryan guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 June 2012 21.00 BST:

Protesters are left with no choice over anti-abortion ads… 

The ads, produced for anti-abortion group Youth Defence and appearing across Ireland, are not only scaremongering but untrue: the majority of women who have had an abortion say that in retrospect it was the right decision. Yet, there is nobody for pro-choicers to complain to about this fact, given the Irish Advertising Standards Authority’s decision that the billboards, being neither commercial nor overtly political, fall outside its jurisdiction. Protesters have taken direct action – writing pro-choice messages on the posters, throwing paint, or tearing them down.

Read more here

According to Anti-abortion campaign Dublin Youth Defence the billboards will remain in place for a month.

Ireland’s abortion laws are the strictest in Europe, and anti-abortion group Youth Defence has launched a national campaign that urges women with crisis pregnancies to seek any option but abortion. The ads have attracted widespread criticism from those who believe it’s wrong to take away a woman’s choice.

Choice Ireland spokesperson Stephanie Lord had this to say about Youth Defence:

“If their concern for women was genuine they would not spend the large costs of these billboards on trying to make women feel bad about the choices they have made.”

See more images and more in depth details on controversy here

I’m with Stephanie Lord all the way.

See also: B&W

Falsehood in advertising

Updated: 29/6/12

B&W revisited:

We know they’re miserable – we made them miserable!

Ireland: student newspaper examines Youth Defence

David Robert Grimes on the bad science of Ireland’s anti-abortion ‘Youth Defence.


H/t: @opheliabenson

Two of a kind?

I don’t know why above banner is still on railings outside front of Donnybrook church on N11 road to Wexford, as the IEC is over and done with these last few days? Incidentally, this photo was taken at the church where Dr. Garrret Fitzgerald’s [ex-Fine-Gael Taoiseach] memorial mass took place just over a year ago. I saw a sign that said the church was built in 1886. I must find out its history. I’m very partial to old buildings.

This poster appears very controversial. It’s presently doing its rounds on Dublin buses. I must find out from whence its source derives, as there is no link given. I went into the bus depot in Donnybrook to find out information pertaining to the advert, the kind assistant referred me to Adshell Farrell Advertising. I asked him if I could get a proper photo, but he said that it would not be possible for me to wander around the yard for insurances purposes, which is very understandable. If there is anyone out there who could give me information on this bus advert, or give me feedback, I’d be try grateful; it’s all par for the course, with respect of media studies for the Leaving Cert. Not to mention women’s rights of which I’m a fierce advocate.

Observations: Abortion and her life apart are in bold capital letters and are indicative of death.

Tears signify, not only surgical tears that bleed = red writing but also tears of regret and pain.

The red background against the white is offering hope. White = purity. Purity of life? Red = passion?

Always is underlined in white?

I think there is a girl to the right of the picture whom the advert is speaking.

I can’t decipher contents in red on the right? I’ll have a google and see if any more light can be shed on the advert.

Donnybrook Dublin Magpies

Yeah, I think this would be one of the best snaps taken thus far of a magpie. They’re so hard to grapple with camera-wise, as they simply do not stay in one spot for the necessary length of time to come up with the proper goods. I am always hoping so much that the Leica inbuilt lens will focus quickly enough to get a good shot before the birds flies away. Invariably it almost never happens. Magpies don’t like to get near humans at all. I know this from my daily observations of said birds, who are permanent residents in my communal garden at Donnybrook. The branches in the background really lend a tropical atmosphere to the image. It was a very humid and mostly overcast day, so it was an added bonus to get sun shining on leaves.

This is another good one. I missed a bit of its tail though. I can’t see the eyes for the black head. They have such long tails.

Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar. Image credit: Sylvia Plath. Courtesy Mayor Gallery

From The Bell Jar:
“I had removed my patent leather shoes after a while, for they foundered badly in the sand. It pleased me to think they would be perched there on a silver log pointing out to sea, like a sort of soul-compass after I was dead.”

Sylvia Plath dedicated The Bell Jar to her friends who offered her refuge after the end of her marriage (“To Elizabeth and David”).

I was in Eason’s bookshop last evening reading the first chapter of Bell Jar. I really liked these two paragraphs.

I’m not going to attempt to read following Spark Notes until I’ve read the book. I put them here for future reference.

Table of Contents: Context / Plot Overview / Character List / Analysis of Major Characters

Sylvia Plath drawings at the Mayor Gallery

Sylvia Plath drawings at the Mayor Gallery: Untitled (Cow) Pen and ink on paper. Signed with initials, typed with artist’s name and authenticated by Ted Hughes on the reverse in pencil.

Cow resting. Cow near Grantchester Pen and ink on paper. Signed with initials, titled and authenticated by Ted Hughes on the reverse in pencil.

Untitled (Fruit Plate). Pen and ink on paper. Signed with initials; typed with artist’s name on the reverse.

Harbour Cornucopia, Wisconsin. Pen and ink on paper. Signed with initials lower left. Inscribed in ink with title and artist’s name on the reverse.

Meadow-Flowers. Pen and ink on paper. Signed with initials; typed with title and artist’s name and address 26 Elmwood Road/Wellesley, Mass.  Also authenticated by Ted Hughes on the reverse in pencil.

The Pleasure of Odds and Ends. Pen and ink on paper. Signed with initials lower right, typed on the reverse with artist’s address (Yaddo/Saratoga Springs/New York) and title.

Untitled (Pots) Pen and ink on paper. Authenticated by Ted Hughes on the reverse in pencil.

Purple Thistle. Pen and ink on paper. Signed with initials; typed on the reverse with artist’s address (26 Elmwood Road, Wellesley, Mass.) and title.

Gallery: Sylvia Plath’s Never-Before-Exhibited Drawings

by . Posted on 1:30 pm Wednesday Oct 26, 2011

Tomorrow would have been Sylvia Plath’s 79th birthday, had she not committed suicide at age 30. Although the literary legend is best known for her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar and the posthumously published collection of poetry Ariel, as her daughter Freida Hughes explains, “her passion for art permeated her short life.  ”After abandoning her vibrant, complex paintings made during her years as an art student for literature, Plath continued to draw compulsively and illustrate her writing, deriving pleasure and inspiration from the craft.”

Now for the first time, 44 pen and ink drawings by Plath will be on view at the Mayor Gallery in London, November 2 through December 16. Among her subjects: a kiosk near the Louvre, huts of Cambridge, views of the Spanish countryside, and Parisian streets, as well as a few items intimately linked to her literary work, like a pair of patent leather shoes entitled The Bell Jar that she loving described in her novel of the same name. See a selection of the drawings from the Sylvia Plath: Her Drawings and Dadamaino: Volumes, spotted via Dangerous Minds, in our gallery.

“Every picture has its shadows, and it has some source of light.” – Joni Mitchell

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 Steve Reed said:

Here’s a testimonial to the effectiveness of social networking!

Over the weekend a Facebook friend posted an article about a gallery show of Sylvia Plath’s drawings. (Sylvia, you will recall, is one of my favorite poets.) The friend lives in San Francisco, but the exhibit — shock — is in London!

So yesterday, wasting no time, I hopped on the tube and went to see it.

It’s at the Mayor Gallery in Soho. The drawings are mostly pen-and-ink sketches, though some are only pencil drafts and at least one uses ink wash. What I found exciting is that several of them were published in a biographical appendix to “The Bell Jar,” Plath’s famous 1963 novel. Having read that book several times, I was familiar with them, so it was cool to have an opportunity to see them in person.

Read more here

Frieda Hughes: Artist

This painting of her [divorced] husband, László Lukács, by Frieda Hughes is just one of 15 ‘pieces of me’ displayed by the poet and artist at


What an interesting concept. What 15 pieces of ephemera would you present to display yourself? Frieda shows us a couple of her paintings, Wellington boots mixed with high heels, a favourite jacket from childhood, and – a cement mixer! I think mine would feature CDs and books and mementos and letters.

See here for more brilliant paintings of this ilk. Frieda attended St Martin’s School of Art as a mature (25-year-old) student.

And that is what I have been doing: cracking open my shell for a voice. Until now, those cracks have been small, not letting in a great deal of light on my life or family matters, since they were personal.

Read the rest of very informative Telegraph 2002 article here.

Despite all the grief Frieda had to go through in her young life, her talents, like those of her very gifted parents shone through. She is such an inspiration. I’m thrilled to have come across somebody like her, that in the face of adversity, she’s able to stand up and be counted. I was so beguiled and touched by the poetry of her mother and can well fathom now why she’s on the Irish Leaving Cert curriculum. I’m sorry to hear of her divorce from the equally gifted Hungarian artist László Lukács. [His father restored priceless items at the Vatican city.]

Suicide: As with mother, so with son [+more=4]

I was reading up on Sylvia Plath’s life, so as to gain knowledge of her for the Leaving Cert poetry. She is always on the Irish curriculum and is very popular with students, from what I can gather. I was very perturbed to learn that she committed suicide, but was in for another shock upon discovering that her son also committed suicide in 2009. One tragedy begot another. It is so heartrendingly tragic and sad stuff to digest.

H/t Elevation – by Frieda Hughes

“Nicholas was born in North Tawton, Devon, England in 1962, the same year that Ted Hughes left Sylvia Plath for Assia Gutmann Wevill. After her son was born, Plath wrote most of the poems that would comprise her most famous collection of poems Ariel and published her semi-autobiographical novel about mental illness The Bell Jar. On February 11, 1963, while Nicholas and his sister slept in the next room, Plath placed towels around the kitchen door to make sure the fumes did not reach their cots, and committed suicide using the toxic gas from the kitchen oven.[7]

Plath addressed one of her last poems, “Nick and the Candlestick” to her son:

O love, how did you get here?
O embryo..

In you, ruby.
The pain
You wake to is not yours.

After their mother’s death, Ted Hughes took over the care of his two children, and raised them with his second wife, Carol, on their farm in Devon[8] after their marriage in 1970.[9] Despite the posthumous fame of Sylvia Plath, and the growing literary and biographical writings about her death, Nicholas was not told about the circumstances of his mother’s suicide until the 1970s.[4][10] It was not until 1998 that Hughes published Birthday Letters, over 30 years of poems about Plath, which he dedicated to his two children.

In the Poem “Life After Death” Hughes recounts how:

Your son’s eyes…. would become
So perfectly your eyes,
Became wet jewels
The hardest substance of the purest pain
As I fed him in his high white chair.[11]

Goodness, gracious me! I’ve just this instant linked to the girlfriend of Ted Hughes R.I.P. to find that there was another suicide.

Assia Wevill (May 15, 1927 – March 23, 1969) was a German-born woman who escaped the Nazis, lived in British Palestine and later in Britain, and is best known for her relationship with the English poet Ted Hughes. She killed herself and also her four-year-old daughter Alexandra Tatiana Elise (Shura). Six years earlier, Hughes’s wife Sylvia Plath had also committed suicide. Wevill committed suicide in similar fashion to Plath, by use of a gas oven.[1]

Now I find yet again upon further reading, that the little daughter of the ex- girlfriend was also in the suicide crossfire. What a terrible terrible mess was made of their lives.

I’m not the better for reading these very painful stories, so will have to sign off for the time being. So, So, So, So horrendously sad.

What does the suicide of Ted Hughes‘ son tell us about his – Daily Mail

Q&A with Frieda Hughes – 

Sylvia Plath Info: Frieda Hughes on the breakup of her parents  Frieda Hughes – Wikipedia, the free ENCYCLOPEDIA

Frieda Hughes attacks BBC for film on Plath | Media | The Guardian

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Family feud over Hughes estate

Frieda Hughes Escapes the Shadow of Mom Sylvia Plath : People.com

Astro: Frieda Hughes, birth date 1 April 1960, born in London 

Tragic poet Sylvia Plath’s son kills himself – CNN

Sylvia Plath remembered in Wisconsin

For more information on Sylvia Plath, visit Britannica.com.


‘Poppies in July’ Analysis

H/t Poppies in July image. ‘Little poppies…little…hell flames, Do you do…no harm?’ The repetition of ‘little’ and the addressing of the question to the poppies give the voice in the poem a natural feeling. The words in the quote are everyday words and are mainly monosyllables. The first line has three beats; the second has two. In the quoted example … indicates the end of a beat. The beat varies a lot in this poem and extends to five and six beat lines: ‘Flickering…like that…wrinkly…and clear red…like the skin…of a mouth’. The varied beat shows the erratic nature of Plath’s emotions.”
Written: 1962. Shortly after Plath confirmed Ted’s affair.

Rhyme & Tone: Everyday speech. Vile, vivid and numb. Seven irregular un-rhyming two line couplets followed by a single line.

Imagery: Image of fire.

Metaphors, similes, apostrophe

Themes: Struggles (failed relationship), Inspiration (exhausted), Depression (drugs).

Poetic Techniques: Apostrophe: speaker addresses a dead or absent person, or inanimate object.

The poem begins with a nice image of summer flowers, yet the end of the first line suggests something sinister and dangerous. When compared with her earlier images of fire and light bringing forth inspiration we can draw some parallels but note the evil tone of ‘little hell flames’. Yet these fiery flowers do no harm to Plath as she says ‘I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns.’ Even if Plath is able to touch these poppies, as she first said, they would do her no harm; she is not affected by the flowers in any way. For Plath to put her hands among these flames suggest self-harm, this notion will ultimately lead to her suicide.

She goes on to say that it is exhausting for Plath to look at these poppies, ‘A mouth just bloodied. Little bloody skirts!’ Plath has finally caught on to Ted Hughes’ cheating and perhaps this line is a dig at her husband, the ‘skirts’ he had been chasing has tarnished his mouth. Yet we must also look to the possibility of physical abuse, and not from Plath as it is rare for someone to bloody one’s own mouth in about of self-abuse. Perhaps Plath had confronted Hughes about his affairs and this resulted in a slap across the face, however this is purely suppositional.

Poppies have been known to harvest effects that come from some drugs; “Opium, or opïum is a narcotic analgesic drug which is obtained from the unripe seed pods of the opium poppy.” Wiki  Note Plath’s following statements and we can be sure she knew of these effects also: ‘…fumes that I cannot touch…nauseous capsules…sleep…dulling and stilling…” It seems as though Plath is longing for this almost comatose state that she can derive from the poppy. [H/t JenniSparks]

She asks for the ‘opiates’ and longs to ‘bleed, or sleep’ and the next line‘If my mouth could marry a hurt like that!’ suggests an intimacy that she desires with something so hurtful. She is sick of life and tired of love and Hughes, in the end everything is colourless – she longs for the poppies to take her away from this world and it looks as though suicide is imminent. H/t poppies image

It is important to note Plath’s usage of the exclamation mark: in line two it reveals her fascination with the poppies; she is repulsed in line eight and in desperation in line ten, finally an intense longing in lines eleven and twelve.

  • Her final thoughts on life are present throughout
  • Note the contrast in the first images and the final images
  • Relationship with Hughes Like

“Poppies in July” is a short poem written in free verse. Its fifteen lines are divided into eight stanzas. The first seven stanzas are couplets, and the eighth consists of a single line. The title presents an image of natural life at its most intense—at the height of summer. It evokes a pastoral landscape and suggests happiness, if not joy or passion. The title is ironic, however, because the poem is not a hymn to nature but a hallucinatory projection of the landscape of the speaker’s mind and emotions.”

Sylvia Plath begins the poem innocently,…

“We know from her many references to ‘red’ and ‘blood-red’ (“the blood-jet is poetry”) that Sylvia Plath associated this colour with dynamic life forces, creative forces, even violent forces–released from restriction or confinement. In the last lines of “Ariel,” her arrow-self, having been released from”dead stringencies,” “flies / Into the red/ Eye, the cauldron of morning.” It is the red sun-cauldron of rebirth, of transfiguration.

Before that yearned-for release, however, a different voice speaks, on many occasions. It is the voice of the passive woman, submitting to her psychic and even physical confinement, despairing of ever achieving the release of her imagination and creative power. She beholds the symbols of vitality, like the red tulips in her hospital room, and she bemoans her own powerlessness, her own dullness. At times she can only imagine psychic freedom by transforming herself by being dead:”

Sylvia Plath Forum: Poppies In July


Sylvia Plath: Poppies in July.


Little poppies, little hell flames,
Do you do no harm?

You flicker. I cannot touch you.
I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns

And it exhausts me to watch you
Flickering like that, wrinkly and clear red, like the skin of a mouth.

A mouth just bloodied.
Little bloody skirts!

There are fumes I cannot touch.
Where are your opiates, your nauseous capsules?

If I could bleed, or sleep!
If my mouth could marry a hurt like that!

Or your liquors seep to me, in this glass capsule,
Dulling and stilling.

But colourless. Colourless.

H/t SuperSpockette Well read! Thanks! I am going to memorise this short powerful poem.