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The Colossus and Other Poems by Sylvia Plath
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The Colossus and Other Poems

by Sylvia Plath

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I love Sylvia Plath! Her poems are amazing, and I adore this as much as her other poems. ( )
  Melumebelle | Aug 8, 2013 |
Lonely. Gray. Intellectual. Think of a young woman walking along the shore in the northeast, finding dead things, and writing poems about them or her wandering thoughts.

Plath does have a rich vocabulary and her poems are deeply personal, speaking of honesty and truth, which is of course a positive. In “The Colossus”, for example, she likens her father who died when she was nine to the Colossus at Rhodes, fallen, and someone whom she will “…never get you put together entirely”, and later: “Perhaps you consider yourself an oracle, / Mouthpiece of the dead, or of some god or other. / Thirty years now I have labored / To dredge the silt from your throat. / I am none the wiser.”

There is also occasional beauty in her words, such as in ‘Spinster’: “How she longed for winter then! … And heart’s frosty discipline / Exact as a snowflake.”. And later: “… Let idiots / Reel giddy in bedlam spring: / She withdrew neatly.”

“The Ghost’s Leavetaking”, about that time in the early morning between half-sleeping and half-waking, is a nice poem, and the closing poem, The Stones”, about her hospitalization, with a reference to ECT, and concluding with “My mendings itch. There is nothing to do. / I shall be good as new.” … given her ultimate suicide, is poignant.

I suppose the reason for the somewhat average rating is that the collection was uneven for me, and at times it felt as though she was trying too hard. However, wow, when she hits, she hits. The one poem I extract in its entirety had my skin tingling, as its living with demons from a young age, disillusionment with a parent, and holding all of one’s feelings within hit home:

The Disquieting Muses
Mother, mother, what illbred aunt
Or what disfigured and unsightly
Cousin did you so unwisely keep
Unasked to my christening, that she
Sent these ladies in her stead
With heads like darning-eggs to nod
And nod and nod at foot and head
And at the left side of my crib?

Mother, who made to order stories
Of Mixie Blackshort the heroic bear,
Mother, whose witches always, always
Got baked into gingerbread, I wonder
Whether you saw them, whether you said
Words to rid me of those three ladies
Nodding by night around my bed,
Mouthless, eyeless, with stitched bald
head.

In the hurricane, when father’s twelve
Study windows bellied in
Like bubbles about to break, you fed
My brother and me cookies and Ovaltine
And helped the two of us to choir:
“Thor is angry: boom boom boom!
Thor is angry: we don’t care!”
But those ladies broke the panes.

When on tiptoe the schoolgirls danced,
Blinking flashlights like fireflies
And singing the glowworm song, I could
Not lift a foot in the twinkle-dress
But, heavy-footed, stood aside
In the shadow cast by my dismal-headed
Godmothers, and you cried and cried:
And the shadow stretched, the lights
went out.

Mother, you sent me to piano lessons
And praised my arabesques and trills
Although each teacher found my touch
Oddly wooden in spite of scales
And the hours of practicing, my ear
Tone-deaf and yes, unteachable.
I learned, I learned, I learned elsewhere,
From muses unhired by you, dear
mother.

I woke one day to see you, mother.
Floating above me in bluest air
On a green balloon bright with a million
Flowers and bluebirds that never were
Never, never, found anywhere.
But the little planet bobbed away
Like a soap bubble as you called: Come
here!
And I faced my traveling companions.

Day now, night now, at head, side, feet,
They stand their vigil in gowns of stone,
Faces blank as the day I was born,
Their shadows long in the setting sun
That never brightens or goes down.
And this is the kingdom you bore me to,
Mother, mother. But no frown of mine
Will betray the company I keep. ( )
3 vote gbill | Mar 24, 2013 |
I re-read this on the 50th anniversary of her death. It falls short of the jaw-droppingly good work she was to come up with at the end of her life, but you can definitely see her potential for that here. Several of the poems completely knock me out, particularly "The Stones" and "The Ghost's Leavetaking." Her skill is there, just not yet fully coming into its own. ( )
  selfcallednowhere | Feb 12, 2013 |
The Colossus and Other Poems is a short collection of Sylvia Plath’s poetry. While the poems are interesting enough on their own right, I would really love to study these poems with someone with a more critical understanding (i.e., in an academic setting) as I enjoyed them but felt like I was missing a lot of literary references, etc. Knowing about Plath’s life was enough to help inform some of the poems though. For instance, “Two Views of a Cadaver Room” is reminiscent of Plath's experiences visiting a hospital with her then-boyfriend, as relayed in both The Bell Jar (the infamous Buddy Willard and the fetuses in jars that Esther recounts seeing) and in her prose works found in Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams.

Of this collection, I was not really a fan of “Hardcastle Crag” or “Faun,” but otherwise liked the rest of the poems in this slim collection. “Point Shirley” was very affecting and brought tears to my eyes (something that usually doesn't happen to me with literature, film, etc.). Two of my favorite poems in this collection are “The Thin People” and “The Ghost's Leavetaking.” And, I really, really appreciated the closing poem “The Stones.” This poem clearly seems to be based on Plath's life and her early suicide attempt. Its final lines (and therefore the final lines of the book) are particularly haunting: “My mendings itch. There is nothing to do. I shall be good as new.” ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Jun 28, 2012 |
I prefer this book to the more acclaimed, more modern Ariel. The writing is more self-consciously literary. The psychology is less overtly confessional, more indirect. it's a beautiful melancholy book. ( )
  mermind | Feb 17, 2012 |
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Dedication
For Ted
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The fountains are dry and the roses over.
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A garden of mouthings. Purple, scarlet-speckled, black the great corollas dilate, peeling back their silks.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375704469, Paperback)

With this startling, exhilarating book of poems, which was first published in 1960, Sylvia Plath burst into literature with spectacular force. In such classics as "The Beekeeper's Daughter," "The Disquieting Muses," "I Want, I Want," and "Full Fathom Five," she writes about sows and skeletons, fathers and suicides, about the noisy imperatives of life and the chilly hunger for death. Graceful in their craftsmanship, wonderfully original in their imagery, and presenting layer after layer of meaning, the forty poems in The Colossus are early artifacts of genius that still possess the power to move, delight, and shock.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

From the Publisher: With this startling, exhilarating book of poems, which was first published in 1960, Sylvia Plath burst into literature with spectacular force. In such classics as "The Beekeeper's Daughter," "The Disquieting Muses," "I Want, I Want," and "Full Fathom Five," she writes about sows and skeletons, fathers and suicides, about the noisy imperatives of life and the chilly hunger for death. Graceful in their craftsmanship, wonderfully original in their imagery, and presenting layer after layer of meaning, the forty poems in The Colossus are early artifacts of genius that still possess the power to move, delight, and shock.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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