the sun and her flowers pdf summary

the sun and her flowers pdf summaryAs we promised yesterday – in honor of Rupi Kaur’s 26th birthday – we bring to you today a summary of her second collection of poems as well.

Published a year ago – almost to the day – the sun and her flowers is everything that milk and honey was.

And sometimes – even more.

Who Should Read “the sun and her flowers”? And Why?

Once again mainly directed at the young female population, the sun and her flowers is a bit more mature and universal than milk and honey, tackling more immediate and less sex-dependent topics such as immigration and embracing one’s roots.

However, it is once again the girls – teenagers and young adults – who’ll enjoy this book the most.

Rupi Kaur Biography

Rupi KaurRupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet, illustrator, and photographer.

She started writing anonymously in high school, but she gained a cult following only when she started publishing her poems on Instagram.

Self-published, her first collection of poetry – milk and honeyis, quite possibly, one of the best-selling poetry books in history.

Even though the sun and her flowers has so far sold in somewhat smaller numbers, it has still sold over a million copies – a fabulously staggering number for a poetry book in the 21st century!

Find out more at https://rupikaur.com

the sun and her flowers summary

To quote Rupi Kaur, “the sun and her flowers is a collection of poetry about grief, self-abandonment, honoring one’s roots, love, and empowering oneself.”

Just like milk and honey, this one too is divided into thematic chapters: wilting. falling. rooting. rising. and blooming.

As is evident from the titles, the framing narrative is the life cycle of a flower which Rupi uses to explore the metaphorical deaths through which we all have to go in order to finally blossom.

Background

After the tremendous success of milk and honey, Rupi Kaur signed a deal with Simon & Schuster for two more books.

And then she started suffering from something which can be tentatively described as writer’s block. She knew that she wanted to write and she knew that she hadn’t lost her talent in the meantime.

However, she felt so much pressure that nothing she ever wrote satisfied her:

For months and months and months I couldn’t write. I would write down a sentence and get so angry at myself because I’d think it was complete garbage. I’d rip it up. You know that typical writer thing everybody thinks we do, well that happened for quite a while. Then I thought this isn’t working and if I keep working like this, I’m not going to get anywhere. I really had to switch around how I was thinking about the second book.

The Cathartic Experience

As Rupi explains in an interview with Jimmy Fallon, the thing that finally did it for her was when she realized she had time; that if she is genuine and honest, she will write another book that matters; and that she’s not writing poetry to earn money, so – there’s no rush, nor pressure.

To purify herself and start all over, she wrote this poem:

they convinced me
i only had a few good years left
before i was replaced by a girl younger than me
as though men yield power with age
but women grow into irrelevance
they can keep their lies
for i have just gotten started
i feel as though i just left the womb
my twenties are the warm-up
for what i’m really about to do
wait till you see me in my thirties
now that will be a proper introduction
to the nasty. wild. woman in me.
how can i leave before the party’s started
rehearsals begin at forty
i ripen with age
i do not come with an expiration date
and now
for the main event
curtains up at fifty
let’s begin the show

In the end, the sun and her flowers bloomed into “a grown-up version of milk and honey. The style is the same but [she goes] deeper. It’s more emotional,” as Rupi Kaur, fully aware, says in a Guardian interview.

The Title

Dedication and Epigraph

Rupi Kaur dedicates the sun and her flowers to her family: her father, mother, brother and sister. They – in the eyes of Rupi – “define love.”

The epigraph is a little gem, wedding the joy of life with the sexual experience, the carnal with the spiritual, the life cycle of the plants with what it means to be human, Rupi’s first book (notice the use of the word “honey”) with her second, the one we’re about to read:

bees came for honey
flowers giggled as they
undressed themselves
for the taking
the sun smiled

– the second birth

wilting

The dictionary defines the word “wilt” as “to become limp or flaccid; droop.” So, this word encompasses in itself two very different states: explicitly, immediate damage but also, implicitly, past greatness.

A great title for a chapter which treats the subjects of heartbreak and loss.

A big part of sun and flowers, says Rupi Kaur herself, is about the grief of losing “what you think is the love of your life – and dealing with its raw aftermath. How do you redefine love when your idea of love is something that’s so violent? When your idea of passion is anger. How do you fix that?”

Well, sometimes you can’t:

i could be anything
in the world
but i wanted to be his

And sometimes everything you can do is pretend that your loss hasn’t happened:

in order to fall asleep
i have to imagine your body
crooked behind mine
spoon ladled into spoon
till i can hear your breath
i have to recite your name
till you answer and
we have a conversation
only then
can my mind
drift off to sleep

And sometimes the pain is so great that it makes you want to annihilate yourself. That way, you can reimagine your own existence. And you can be someone else, someone you are not, but also someone he loves; that way, you can be his again: “what draws you to her/ tell me what you like/ so i can practice.”

As the poetess herself realizes during a therapy session in one of her longest poems yet – this is not the way to go. Because love cannot come from self-hate, it must be “figuring out all the kind sweetness we deserve.” In other words, love is not becoming someone else to be chosen – “love is knowing whom to choose.”

So, don’t worry – even though “[he] took the sun with [him] when [he] left,” – “you will make it to the end.”

Just “open the door to the rest of it.”

falling

Oh, only if it were that easy! – that’s the leitmotif of the second chapter of the sun and her flowers. Because after loss comes not only pain, but also numbness:

i hardened under the last loss. it took something human out of me. i used to be so deeply emotional i’d crumble on demand. but now the water has made its exit. of course i care about the ones around me. i’m just struggling to show it. a wall is getting in the way. i used to dream of being so strong nothing could shake me. now. i am. so strong. that nothing shakes me.
and all i dream is to soften.

Robert Sapolsky defines depression as a “genetic/neurochemical disorder requiring a strong environmental trigger whose characteristic manifestation is an inability to appreciate sunsets.” It feels as if Rupi Kaur ruminates upon this definition when she writes thus:

Yesterday
when i woke up
the sun fell to the ground and rolled away
flowers beheaded themselves
all that’s left alive here is me
and i barely feel like living

– depression is a shadow living inside me

It seems as if the poetess underrated the extent of a heartache, which, regardless of whether it is caused by a friend or a lover, is always the same: “a loss is a loss is a loss,” concludes Kaur soon, echoing the best-known Gertrude Stein line.

And the problem with losing someone is not the absence of that someone – it is the absence of yourself from your own body and the things you need to do to become your self again:

it felt like you threw me
so far from myself
i’ve been trying to find my way back ever since

And the only way to transcend this state of loss is by finding уour way back to yourself and becoming full again. And that can only come when we realize that there are different ways in which one can be full:

you were mine
and my life was full
you are no longer mine
and my life
is full

rupi kaur heart flower illustration

Sam Smith liked this illustration so much that he tattooed it on his arm

 

rooting

The poems in the third section, rooting, mostly focus on topics such as borders and the experience of the immigrant:

they have no idea what it is like
to lose home at the risk of
never finding home again
to have your entire life
split between two lands and
become the bridge between two countries

Bathed in her own (“my mouth carries two worlds – accent”; “broken English”) and her family’s experiences as immigrants, Rupi Kaur’s verses in this section exude with both poignancy and power. Because the immigrant is someone who has gone through hell, but also someone who has acquired so much strength through this suffering that he’s become so much more than the tender things we are:

what if we get to their doors
and they slam them shut
i ask
what are doors she says
when we’ve escaped the belly of the beast

There’s also a cry for compassion in rooting, because, in the words of Rupi, “borders/ are man-made/ they only divide us physically/ don’t let them make us/ turn on each other – we are not enemies.

Hear that, Trump?

rising

And then, out of the pain and the suffering – we rise, Maya Angelou style!

True, “the middle place is strange/ the part between them and the next,” but it’s also part of every transformation. So, “never feel guilty for starting again,” especially if you’ve been drained by your previous love.

Find someone who “energizes you” and “wraps you in the word special.

And that someone must be – just like you – full on his own, because:

when you are
full
and i am
full
we are two suns

You’ll know when that happens:

they should feel like home
a place that grounds your life
where you go to take the day off

– the one

blooming

As Kaur says in one of her falling poems, “you do not just wake up and become the butterfly – growth is a process.

And this one ends with the most straightforward discovery of them all: that you are enough.

“look down at your body,” Kaur implores, and “whisper/ there is no home like you/ – thank you.” “their concept of beauty/ is manufactured,” she adds later on. “i am not – human.”

This leads Kaur to an interesting revelation: “it is a trillion-dollar industry that would collapse/ if we believed we were beautiful enough already.”

So, why don’t we?

Why do we feel the need to go under the knife and become something that we are not? We are not each other’s competition – and until we realize that, everybody is losing.

You should not go gently into the good night: you should do your best to meet Death with a smile upon your face; as a winner:

when i go from this place
dress the porch with garlands
as you would for a wedding my dear
pull the people from their homes
and dance in the streets
when death arrives
like a bride at the aisle
send me off in my brightest clothing
serve ice cream with rose petals to our guests
there’s no reason to cry my dear
i have waited my whole life
for such a beauty to take
my breath away
when i go
let it be a celebration
for i have been here
i have lived
i have won at this game called life

– funeral

the sun and her flowers epilogue

Just like milk and honey, the sun and flowers concludes with short prose with a very simple, but potent message. It ends thus:

i find it deeply important to accept that we are not the masters of this place. we are her visitors. and like guests let’s enjoy this place like a garden. let us treat it with a gentle hand. so the ones after us can experience it too. let’s find our own sun. grow our own flowers. the universe delivered us with the light and the seeds. we might not hear it at times but the music is always on. it just needs to be turned louder. for as long as there is breath in our lungs—we must keep dancing.

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the sun and her flowers pdf quotes”

you left/ and i wanted you still/ yet i deserved someone/ who was willing to stay Click To Tweet i notice everything i do not have/ and decide it is beautiful Click To Tweet you are an open wound/ and we are standing/ in a pool of your blood/ – refugee camp Click To Tweet sometimes/ i stop myself from/ saying the words out loud/ as if leaving my mouth too often/ might wear them down/ – i love you Click To Tweet i will no longer/ compare my path to others/ – i refuse to do a disservice to my life Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Rupi Kaur is fully aware that she is not like other poets. And that’s what makes her so special: instead of creating something artificial (you know, as in: art), she has opted to create something immediate and sincere.

And people respond to that.

There’s a reason for that, of course: as David Foster Wallace warned in the wake of the September 11 attacks, we’ve become too insincere. And unless we do something about it, that can destroy us.

So, thanks, Rupi, for doing all that you can to stop that.

you. heal.

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milk and honey summary

milk and honey summaryYesterday was Rupi Kaur’s 26th birthday. (Happy birthday, Rupi!)

To honor her – as well as show our appreciation for her work – we decided to make her two books (milk and honey and the sun and her flowers) the first two collections of poetry summarized on our site.

Consider that our gift to you, a way of paying Rupi’s gift of poetry forward.

Do the same: buy her books and gift them to someone you love; preferably a female; especially if she’s hurting.

Trust us: her poems do wonders.

They are understanding and compassionate; they are mystical and healing

We start with milk and honey, “a collection of poetry and prose about survival… about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.”

Who Should Read “milk and honey”? And Why?

Unfortunately, people don’t enjoy poetry nowadays as much as they used to.

Just for an illustration, according to the 2015 National Endowment for the Arts survey of arts participation, only 6.7 percent of the American population has read at least one poem during the past year.

That’s a decline of 45 percent within a decade!

We certainly don’t know all the reasons for this abysmal statistic, but one of them must be the way poems are written in this day and age. It seems that ever since T. S. Eliot’s 1921 dictum that “poets in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult” – poets are difficult.

Which is probably why there was such an uproar when Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature: even his most surrealistic songs seem comprehensible when compared to those written by the critically acclaimed poets of today.

Rupi Kaur is not one of these poets. In fact, she’s not even that well regarded by many critics. But does it matter?

milk and honey sold in 2.5 million copies worldwide – thousands and even tens of thousands of times more than the books written by some of these critically acclaimed poets (by the way, white males most of the time).

And what’s the point of writing a book nobody would read? Even if you know the most important thing in the world, what difference does it make if you are not able to relay it in meaningful and comprehensible language? How many lives would an intelligible poem change?

As the ancient prophetess Cassandra knew full well – probably not even one. When nobody understands your prophecies, people will go on living the way they would have in their absence.

So, who should milk and honey?

Everyone. Especially women.

Because Kaur’s poetry is clear, personal and it touches something profound. Because she’s not afraid to talk about things other people don’t want to.

And because reading her has meant falling in love with poetry all over again for millions of people; so, it may mean the very same to you.

Rupi Kaur Biography

Rupi KaurRupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet, illustrator, and photographer.

Her family immigrated to Canada when she was four years old; since she didn’t understand the language, her mother encouraged Kaur to star expressing herself with drawings and paintings. And she has – ever since.

She started writing anonymously while in high school. After completing her degree in rhetoric studies and professional writing at the University of Waterloo, Kaur began sharing her work via Tumblr.

In 2014, she began adding simple illustrations to her poems and started publishing them on Instagram. The artworks had a haunting effect: very soon, she gained a large number of followers. By the end of the year, after being rejected by numerous publishers, Rupi Kaur self-published her first collection of poems, milk and honey; an enormous success, the book sold over 2.5 million copies and remained on The New York Times bestseller list for almost 80 weeks!

Last year, one day before her birthday, Kaur published her second collection, the sun and her flowers. The book has already sold over a million copies.

Find out more at https://rupikaur.com

milk and honey summary

Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey (the lowercase is – if you didn’t get that by now – intentional) is an intermedial collection of poetry, prose, and hand-drawn illustrations.

The book is divided into four sections, each of them encompassing poems focusing on a different theme, the one suggested in their titles: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing.

Background

“I like to think milk and honey began the day i was born,” writes Rupi Kaur in the FAQ on her website answering the question “where did milk and honey begin?” “The reason for this,” she goes on, “is that i take from my lifelong experiences for this collection. i take from a lot of pain i’ve experienced or my family has experienced. Or my community has experienced.”

The Title

It’s a beautiful title this one – milk and honey – don’t you think?

As Rupi Kaur explains herself, it’s also one which says a lot:

years ago i wrote a poem about the 1984 genocide of sikhs in india. in it there is a line about the women who lived through that terrible time. their resilience is breathtaking. they are the enduring survivors to the murders of their husbands and children. the survivors of betrayal. rape. torture. i write that they come out of that terror as smooth as milk and as thick as honey. i performed that piece around my hometown. but it didn’t feel right in my heart to leave those words right there. in the confines of a single line in a single poem. that day a higher power was at play because i opened up a brand new journal and on the front page wrote those words. something inside me said ‘this will be more one day’. and here we are. this is how the title ‘milk and honey’ is born.

So, you already know what you can expect from the poems inside this book.

They are themselves “smooth as milk and as thick as honey.”

And they are also as sweet and as healing.

Actual “tools to heal wounds, repair the insides.”

Dedication and Epigraph

There’s a sense of urgency permeating through Rupi Kaur’s book. As if she wants to tell you: read these poems; they are everything I am; and they have helped me; they may help you too…

Written “for/ the arms/ that hold me,” milk and honey is a sort of a healing cry, as evidenced by the book’s beautiful epigraph:

my heart woke me crying last night
how can i help i begged
my heart said
write the book

The epigraph explains the therapeutic structure of the collection: hurt juxtaposed with love, heartbreak with healing.

the hurting

The first section of Rupi Kaur’s milk and honeythe hurting – mainly explores two themes: families and sex. As the title of the section implies, neither in a way which will make you smile; rather, in a way which will make you ache and feel the ache; think and understand your thoughts.

The father is usually either absent or uncaring in these poems and the mothers and the daughters are taught to either be silent (“this is how the women in my family/ learned to live with their mouths closed”) or, worse yet, confuse love and anger:

every time you
tell your daughter
you yell at her
out of love
you teach her to confuse
anger with kindness
which seems like a good idea
till she grows up to
trust men who hurt her
cause they look so much
like you

The uncared-for daughters with a fundamentally unsuitable father model (“a daughter should/ not have to/ beg her father/ for a relationship”) turn into girls who fall in love with boys who use their bodies:

i’ve had sex she said
but i don’t know
what making love
feels like

But that’s the only possible outcome. Because, after all, a father “was supposed to be/ the first male love of your life” and “you still search for him/ everywhere.”

the loving

In the next section, the loving, things are turned around by – what else if not her – the power of love! One poem from this section almost reads like a comforting lullaby for the aching ones of the first section:

love will come
and when love comes
love will hold you
love will call your name
and you will melt
sometimes though
love will hurt you but
love will never mean to
love will play no games
cause love knows life
has been hard enough already

However, something that the author stresses over and over again in this chapter is that you can’t love somebody if you don’t learn how to love yourself first: “i am learning/ how to love him/ by loving myself.”

All those faulty relationships of your life are actually an externalization of your repressed hate for yourself, encrusted upon your soul through years of household misunderstandings and patriarchal – but never fatherly – reproaches.

The poem which best encompasses the feeling of this section is probably this one:

i do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
i want to be full on my own
i want to be so complete
i could light a whole city
and then
i want to have you
cause the two of us combined
could set it on fire

the breaking

The first part of the second dark/light diptych of milk and honey is an exploration of the heartbreak: what happens when love gives way to habit, and heaven becomes indistinguishable from hell?

If the hurting demonstrates that hurts can be a direct consequence of the misperception of anger as kindness, the breaking adds that they can also be the result of the confusion between love and need:

he only whispers i love you
as he slips his hands
down the waistband
of your pants

this is where you must
understand the difference
between want and need
you may want that boy
but you certainly
don’t need him

As she warns in another poem, it’s wrong to “whisper/ i love you” when “what you mean is I don’t want you to leave.”

“i didn’t leave because/ i stopped loving you,” elucidates Kaur further in a thought-provoking poem. “i left because the longer/ i stayed the less/ i loved myself.”

the healing

And, more or less, the healing begins – and ends – with the very same feeling:

you must enter a relationship
with yourself
before anyone else.

This is what experience has taught the speaker: that love is love only when it stems from self-love. Otherwise, it’s nothing more but pain, a projection of your innermost fears and expectations.

It’s not true, Kaur says – it’s a cruel trick, in fact – that another person can complete you; “the most they can do is complement.”

You must “fall/ in love/ with your solitude” before falling in love with someone else. The fact that you are a woman so “capable… of feeling” and “unafraid… of breaking” makes you “utterly whole and complete.”

Never forget that if you want to be healed, you need to “accept yourself/ as you were designed.”

Because:

Rupi Kaur illustration

milk and honey epilogue

milk and honey ends with a love letter.

One from Rupi Kaur to her readers.

We feel obliged to quote it in full. But, we also feel that the ones who haven’t read Kaur’s book have not really deserved reading it.

So please don’t – until you read (and reread) each and every page of this book:

you have made it to the end. with my heart in your hands. thank you. for arriving here safely. for being tender with the most delicate part of me. sit down. breathe. you must be tired. let me kiss your hands. your eyes. they must be wanting of something sweet. i am sending you all my sugar. i would be nowhere and nothing if it were not for you. you’ve helped me become the woman i wanted to be. but was too afraid to be. do you have any idea how much of a miracle you are. how lovely it’s been. and how lovely it will always be. i am kneeling before you. saying thank you. i am sending my love to your eyes. may they always see goodness in people. and may you always practice kindness. may we see each other as one. may we be nothing short of in love with everything the universe has to offer. and may we always stay grounded. rooted. our feet planted firmly onto the earth.

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“milk and honey quotes”

it is your blood / in my veins / tell me how i’m / supposed to forget Click To Tweet every revolution/ starts and ends/ with his lips Click To Tweet i want your hands/ to hold/ not my hands/ your lips/ to kiss/ not my lips/ but other places Click To Tweet you were so distant/ i forgot you were there at all Click To Tweet do not bother holding on to/ that thing that does not want you/ – you cannot make it stay Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

The most popular Instapoet (and that’s in the company of, say, Amanda Lovelace, Tyler Knott Gregson, Atticus, Lang Leav, etc.), Rupi Kaur is, in a way, the female counterpart of Khalil Gibran.

And her poetry has already reached as many readers – who have hurt and healed through them.

And that’s the most one can ask from a poet.

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