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The Colossus and Other Poems

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  6,463 ratings  ·  114 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 84 pages
Published May 19th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1960)
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May 28, 2011 Steve rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Rob Zombie, David Lynch
Shelves: poetry
The Colossus is the coldest collection of summer poetry you will ever read. I’m certain this paradox was intentional. Moles, maggots, cadavers, suicides, dead snakes, dead things in the surf, dead things on the shore, dead things out in the water, etc. There were times I was bit numbed out by all that dead stuff. For the first third of the collection, I initially felt the influence of Robert Lowell to be obvious in some of the poems (“Point Shirley,” “Hardcastle Crags”). Now I’m not so sure. Yes ...more
Brent Legault
May 02, 2012 Brent Legault rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the thin people, all the dead dears
Perhaps I shouldn't have tried to read The Colossus all at once. It's had, it's had an, it's made me. . . I'm sorry, I have to sit down and start again.

Perhaps I shouldn't have tried to read The Colossus all at once. The poems are too rich, too sensual and filling. It was like trying to eat a plateful of prime rib, that's been covered in dark chocolate and deep fried. Delicious, but.

And all the hard words! I don't mean hard like palustral is hard, as in hard to understand because I'd never befo
Poor Colossus. I've never given the collection much credit; like many, I was rather blinded by the incandescence of the Ariel poems, and tended to think of this book as a sort of worksheet preparing for those late poems. But that isn't an entirely fair assessment. Sure, some of the poems here feel like drafts for what would come later ("Man In Black" seems to predict "Medusa," "Moonrise" feels like the exercise that enabled her to write "Blackberrying"), and some seem a bit too stiflingly in the ...more
Katie Dreyer
Have this book on your bedside table for those lonely, stormy nights when you want to hide underneath your covers and read something dark and meaningful. Sylvia's a beautiful writer - there's no denying I'm a fan. I like that we get to see inside her nightmares, and subsequently, our own. My copy of this collection is filled with annotations in the margins, creased pages, and wear and tear from constant use. Many of the poems are plain out disturbing and you're not going to get a 'feel good' exp ...more
Connie  Kuntz
I think it's a wonderful thing to slow down and read Plath's poetry. She's such a convincing, thorough writer. Her sense of humor is so unique and slow. I'm not sure the world will ever stop mourning her death. Everybody already knows Plath was a brilliant writer, so I won't spend too much time writing a review. Instead, here are a couple excerpts:

From "Mushrooms":

"We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door."

Funny, yes?

Plus, she has a remarkable ability to write sensuously a
"Prime rib covered in dark chocolate"? "Comes from the darkest crevices of herself"? Shudder... It's sentiments like these which contribute to our culture's overwhelming indifference (perhaps even resentment)towards poetry. Poetry isn't wussy, it's not some superfluous thing which can only be grasped by the suicidal-chic. Plath's poetry is frankly, a lot more than that. Yes, there's pain. There is some death. But there's also tranquility, poignancy,and, more times than not, a hell of a lot of hu ...more
Plath is a writer i knew very little about beforehand but reading her poetry and the brilliant way she puts words together she is the type of poet I prefer. Style, wordsmith poet over poets about social ,political content or those that write playing literary games of writing difficult poems that just put words together.

This collection i impulse bought because of her reputation as a poet and didnt know it was her first published book of poems. Its truly shocking,freaky to me that she could have r
I'm surprised I didn't care for the Colossus poems much. They felt really over-worked to me.
"The Colossus," from what I understand, was Plath's first published collection of poetry. During this early phase of Plath's career, she still treated the act of writing poetry as a laborious and painstaking process, often diligently looking up words in the thesaurus and then inserting many synonyms of one word into a single composition. This rather pedantic attitude toward poetry shows in these poems, many of which devoutly adhere to difficult rhyme schemes (albeit frequently using slant rhymes ...more
Me podrían torturar hasta la muerte y yo seguiría gritándole al mundo, hasta exhalar mi último suspiro, que El coloso es mil veces mejor que Ariel. Esta Sylvia sí que me gusta. Me gusta y de verdad. ¿Y sabéis que me gusta también? su "A Ted" en la primera página.

«Entre cipreses
me siento y el acanto de tu pelo

y tus huesos estriados se penetran
de su antigua anarquía hasta el borde
del horizonte. Crear tanta ruina
requiere más que un rayo. Por la noche
me agazapo en tu oreja, contra el viento,

Jan 07, 2013 K.m. rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Plath is a poet more to be admired than loved. At times she leaves a crack to look through, displays her vulnerability, but so much of what she writes feels overly academic, overly composed, overly self-conscious. Poetry seems a scholarly exercise, rather than an expression of feeling to her. That said, 'On the Difficulty of Conjuring up a Dryad' and 'Black Rook in Rainy Weather' are beautiful exceptions.

"No doubt now in dream-propertied fall some moon-eyed,/ star-lucky sleight-of-hand man watc
In my mind, Sylvia Plath cannot be challenged by any other poet. Acerbic, clean and unerringly modern, she has very little in common with those she is often filed away with- Dorothy Parker, Anne Sexton, and even Edna St. Vincent Millay. That's not to say that those ladies aren't great in their own right (I own most of their poetry); it's just that Sylvia is, in my opinion, different. Each read produces a new level of understanding- revisiting this book will never get old.
Claudia Nugent
I always make the mistake of reading Sylvia Plath too indulgently. I plunge into the pages gluttonously. I linger there.

I forget the impact until I emerge. I am eroded, hollowed out. I feel tired.

I go back and read again. I let the poems so pithy and lasting fill me completely. My body weeps at its seams and aches, aches.

I can't decide whether I love her or hate her. I think, an ineffable combination of both. (I love her. I don't want to.)
Since I'm not a scholar or an expert on poetry, I'll just give you my thoughts. I'll just say it, this wasn't my favorite Plath collection for an undefinable reason. There were many poems I loved. I also recognized that she was drawing from the world around her. Like Mushroooms, which I loved. Her vocabulary and cadence combined often caused me to reread passages to make sure I understood them. She clearly stands apart in her art. I read the book twice, often there would be lines slipped in here ...more
Se calhar devia ter lido este antes do Ariel, para o poder apreciar como deve de ser. Ou então se o tivesse lido primeiro nunca teria lido o Ariel porque não me teria despertado o interesse suficiente.
dde qualquer maneira, embora sejam bons poemas, com um ou outro selecto a chegar às cinco estrelas, e mais uns quantos às quatro, não consigp dar a este livro mais de três estrelas. A razão que dou a mim mesma é que, quando acabei de ler o Ariel voltei para trás e tive de reler os meus favoritos, ,
Sheri Struk
I haven't read a book of poetry since perhaps high school. (And, I picked this book up to fulfill a requirement that I read a "Staff Pick" for my library's adult summer reading program.) I wasn't very impressed by Plath's work though I know she is quite famous in the world of poetry. I just didn't have the patience to delve into the meaning of the poetry. Her imagery, at times, was fascinating but I found the topics of the poems (nature, love, death, etc.) to be fairly dry. It will probably be a ...more
Poetry is difficult.
Steven Peterson
Sylvia Plath is a well reputed poet, dying at too early an age, silencing her poetic voice. This book represents one of her early works.

Her poetry is not beautiful or lyrical or elegiac. There is a hardness, almost a clinical coldness, to the verses, and some dark themes recur. And some odd poems based on intriguingly selected facts.

Of the latter. . . . A stone coffin from the 4th century AD in Cambridge (England) contains skeletons of a woman, a mouse, and a shrew. The woman's ankle bone was
My last few reviews were composed immediately after I read the books, just to keep them fresh in my mind. For "The Colossus", I waited a day after reading the poems so I could read them again. After writing this review I will probably read them several more times.

I haven't read much poetry over the years. Part of the reason for this is that I don't know iambic pentameter from terza rima, but I know when I've been bowled over by a Shakespeare ( though there was only one Shakespeare) or a Sylvia P
Dec 29, 2007 nichole added it
Recommends it for: girls who don't know better
I was fairly blown away by the language and images in this collection, which rattles along like some jagged, ruthless machine. There is, however, a streak of amateurishness running through some of these poems: an odd line out that pushes a theme or motif a little too hard or a little too long. "The Stones", the concluding poem, is the prime example here; the general conceit is pretty ridiculous and comes off as a Plath parody, although a very good one.

I read a book of poetry earlier this year by
Richard Epstein
I've never gotten Sylvia Plath, in the sense that neither her poems nor her novel ever made any difference to me, and I couldn't understand the fuss. To be fair, I've always felt exactly the same way about Ted Hughes. Their collective mystique seems to me more a subject for People magazine than literary discourse; but a lot of people whose judgment I respect feel altogether otherwise.
Maggie Gammons
Sylvia Plath writes multi-dimensional poems, and each one deserves a life time to appreciate.
Reading a poem from this book the first time is often very foggy. Reading it over again, the poem unfolds itself into new meanings. The third and fourth times, it is like holding a microscope up to Plath's brain.
No other poet I've read has expressed so much in such few lines as Plath did in this book. Her syntax is remarkable, and her imagery is transformative.
Sylvia Plath is a poetic genius, and this
It was neat rereading this book and seeing how lines I underlined and poems I starred who knows how many years ago still affect me. Sentences like,

What I want back is what I was
Before the bed, before the knife,
Before the brooch-pin and the salve
Fixed me in this parenthesis;

get to me every time I read them.
Overall, this was a very good book. I loved Plath's imagery, which was direct and haunting while remaining powerfully poetic. The perfect example of this comes from "The Colossus": "Scaling little ladders with gluepots and pails of lysol/ I crawl like an ant in mourning." This is how the entire collection flowed, with this elegant yet simple poetry. I wouldn't recommend this to people who have problems reading about suicide I'd say probably about half or more of the poems dealt with the contempl ...more
Laura Neu
A little slow to start and left me, at first, a bit disappointed. However, its power picked up quickly. Still not as impressive and awe-inspiring as her other works, but undeniably masterful. In this collection, Plath demonstrates the utmost control.
I liked it when she cloud see through "things" Be it a mushroom, ant ..
but overall it was too confusing for me and I couldn't feel it.
I don't mind nature poetry but I'd rather be lost in an inward

will be reading more of Plath, I guess.
I haven't read much poetry so far, but this was a collection we read and analyzed at school, and I've got to say it has encouraged me to read more, and expand my knowledge, of poetry. There are so many biographical allusions to Plath's life in her poetry; it is all so interesting to me. Her psychological state, while very troubled, seems to have been paired with an acute ability to analyze her own self, those around her, and society in general. I really enjoyed reading some of her poems because ...more
Rachel Anita ♥
I am glad I read Plath's poetry after college. I feel that I could fully grasp it. That aside, I enjoyed this book. It's really well written and I feel that every poem has a tinge of darkness to them. It's right on the edge. Read this after The Bell Jar! It's worth it. :)
Poetry's usually not my thing, and I'd be lying if I said a huge part of me reading it wasn't to do with my UCAS personal statement. That said, I loved The Bell Jar, and some of Plath's poetry is downright haunting. I especially enjoyed Two Views of a Cadaver Room, Suicide Off Egg-Rock, The Ghost's Leavetaking, Mussel Hunter at Rock Harbour and Sculptor. The grisly, depressing poems were the best, in my opinion.
Will I read more? Probably. Will I enjoy it? I'm not sure. I like my prose clear-cut
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FABClub (Female A...: The Colossus (June/July 2012) 6 13 Aug 18, 2012 12:14PM  
Sylvia Plath Lovers: Missing Strophe in The Ghost's Leavetaking? 1 4 Jul 08, 2012 05:20AM  
Poetry Readers Ch...: The Colossus, by Sylvia Plath 10 16 Oct 10, 2011 05:54AM  
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Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book's protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a bright, ambitious student at Smith College who begins to experience a mental breakdown while interning for a fashion magazine in New York. The plot paralle
More about Sylvia Plath...
The Bell Jar Ariel The Collected Poems The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose and Diary Excerpts

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“Love is the bone and sinew of my curse.” 76 likes
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