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The Colossus and Other Poems by Sylvia Plath
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The Colossus and Other Poems (original 1960; edition 1998)

by Sylvia Plath (Author)

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1,0521114,521 (4.1)10
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)
Member:Rachel_Cucinella
Title:The Colossus and Other Poems
Authors:Sylvia Plath (Author)
Info:Vintage (1998), Edition: 1st Vintage International ed, 96 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Colossus and Other Poems by Sylvia Plath (1960)

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» See also 10 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
A very baroque and fully-realized matrix of gothic motifs and tropes. Every element goes on to form satisfying converging themes that connect and contain everything - nothing is wasted or unaccounted. An oddly self-contained and clenched-tight collection of poems. ( )
  Algybama | Feb 22, 2019 |
The Colossus

I shall never get you put together entirely,
Pieced, glued, and properly jointed.
Mule-bray, pig-grunt and bawdy cackles
Proceed from your great lips.
It's worse than a barnyard.
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.

Scaling little ladders with glue pots and pails
of lysol
I crawl like an ant in mourning
Over the weedy acres of your brow
To mend the immense skull plates and clear
The bald, white tumuli of your eyes.

A blue sky out of the Oresteia
Arches above us. O father, all by yourself
You are pithy and historical as the Roman
Forum.
I open my lunch on a hill of black cypress.
Your fluted bones and acanthine hair are
littered

In their old anarchy to the horizon-line.
It would take more than a lightning-stroke
To create such a ruin.
Nights, I squat in the cornucopia
Of your left ear, out of the wind,

Counting the red stars and those of plum-
color.
The sun rises under the pillar of your tongue.
My hours are married to shadow.
No longer do I listen for the scrape of a keel
On the blank stones of the landing.
( )
  Adriana_Scarpin | Jun 12, 2018 |
Not every poem in this collection captured my attention, but it did give me a glimpse into her life. The way Plath perceived the obligation that is motherhood, her thoughts on existence and death. If you do pick up any of her poetry, you have to listen to her reading it. It’s an entirely different experience and makes everything that much more enjoyable. Just type up on youtube “Sylvia Plath reads”.

Out of the collection, the following were my absolute favorites!

Two Views of a Cadaver Room
The first half about an autopsy, similar to Esther and Buddy’s excursion in chapter 6 of The Bell Jar. The second half of the poem is all about a painting by Bruegel. A poem which speaks of death and love and their inseparable coexistence.

Lorelai
A poem of sirens calling men to their doom. The strong allure of death. The poem begins “ It is no night to drown in.” and ends “ Stone, stone, ferry me down there.”

The Ghost’s Leavetaking
A poem about dreaming. About a life we lead outside our realm of reality and one we must depart each morning, like a ghost fading in daylight. ( )
  frailrouge | Mar 28, 2018 |
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. ( )
2 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 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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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.

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