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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Collected Poems
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 1999
Format: Perfect Paperback
This book is the most complete collection of Sylvia Plath's poetry assembled in one volume. It is for this reason that it belongs almost as required reading, not just in American english programs, but in secondary schools everywhere. It's value lies in it's progression of a female poet and her journey towards finding her true voice. We see the early poems, methodically and skillfully written, shedding style after style of obvious influences through excercises of observation and perserverance. Through these verses, she explores and develops an intricate mythology; by the end, however, she has not lost us in her private world of symbolism and imagery, but enthralls us, heartbreakingly, through the mastery of her words. These last poems, that made up her final manuscript, are undisputedly some of the most moving and beautifully executed compositions of this past century. It is a wonderful book, one that forever changes the way the reader interprets art and the world around him that inspires it.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2002
Format: Perfect Paperback
It doesn't matter what you think about Sylvia Plath; her suicides, dependence on Ted Hughes, the relationship she had with her mother, her poems about "Daddy, the very depth of the darkness she held inside. It doesn't matter a damn. What matters is the writing, the beauty of the words, the music in her voice.
"The Collected Poems" won the Pulitzer. Some may disagree with this choice, but what do they know. Sylvia was a genius.
The poems are from 1956-1963...
"Southern Sunrise" 1956
SP uses the imagery of color- lemon,mango, peach, pinapple barked, green crescent of palms, quartz clear, blue drench, red watermelon sun. One can see she was happy when she wrote this poem. (Probably just met Ted)

"Fiesta Melons" 1956
Bright green and thumpable/Laced over With stripes/
Of turtle-dark green/Choose an egg shape/ a world shape/
Bowl one homeward to taste/ in the whitehot noon
I find it interesting how much SP's poems reveal about her state of mind as she wrote them. One can observe the progression of depression, her troubled marriage and lonliness, especially in the later poems 1960-63...
"Tulips" 1961
I am nobody/I have nothing to do with explosions.
I didn't want any flowers/I only wanted/to lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
"The Rival" 1961(About Ted??)
I wake to a mausoleum; you are here/Ticking your fingers on the marble table/looking for cigarettes/Spiteful as a woman, but not so nervous/ And dying to say something unanswerable.
The Moon and the Yew Tree" 1961
Separated from my house by a row of headstones/ I simply cannot see where there is to get to.
"A Birthday Present" 1962 (SP's struggle w/depression)
I would have killed myself gladly that time any possible way/Now there are these veils, shimmering like curtains./
The diaphanous satins of a January window/White as babies' bedding and glittering with dead breath. O ivory!
"Lesbos" 1962 (SP's experimentation w/ lesbianism??)
You say your husband is just no good to you/His Jew Mama guards his sweet sex like a pearl/You have one baby, I have two/I should sit on a rock off Cornwall and comb my hair./ I should wear tiger pants, /I should have an affair/ We should meet in another life,/ we should meet in air/ Me and you.
People are fascinated w/ SP, her confessional poetry, giving us a glimse into her world. We feel as if we know her. And even though she appears strong and nasty at times, we see the sweetness behind it all, the lonliness, and somehow, like Marilyn Monroe, we would have liked to be her friend.
1962-63 were Sylvia's darkest days and it shows in her poetry...
"Sheep in Fog"
The hills step off into whiteness/People or stars/
Regard me sadly,/ I disapoint them.
All morning the / Morning has been blackening.
"Daddy"
If I've killed one man, I've killed two/
The vampire who said he was you/ (ted hughes)
Who drank my blood for a seven years,/ if you want to know/ Daddy you can lie back now./
There's a stake in your fat black heart/ And the villagers never liked you/They are dancing and stamping on you/They always knew it was you/ daddy, you bastard,/ I'm through.
Sylvia Plath is somebody we want to know better, this is why we read her poetry. Although much of it is dark, the music of her voice still crys out with such precision and brilliance that we listen, we learn, and we continue reading the words she left behind.
"Death & Co."
I do not stir.
The frost makes a flower,
The dew makes a star,
The dead bell,
The dead bell.
Someboy's done for.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Format: Perfect Paperback
Gosh, I love Sylvia Plath's prose and poetry. I could read and reread some of her poems again and again. This is a great collection of her poems. I keep this book loose on my bookshelf when I feel like getting shivers up my spine before I go to sleep. There are some poems that I can just read and reread over and over again that make me feel... oh, mysterious, anxious, happy, perplexed... and Sylvia Plath is one of the poets who has written multiple poems that give me those feelings. Most people who like poetry are familiar with Mirror or Daddy, but there are other poems that people don't know about. I loved the sonnet "To Time" and the poem "Mystic." It is interesting to read her poems knowing what she was going through... reading the poems that coincide with certain events in her life, like her marriage to Ted Hughes, and poems that she wrote about her attempted suicides. I suggest this collection to anyone who is interested in this woman... and I also recommend that you read The Bell Jar as you read her poems, or maybe a few of her journal entries. Sylvia Plath is one of those poets that writes about herself, and knowing background on her life is crucial in understanding these poems. Well, you can decide for yourself.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2001
Format: Perfect Paperback
Perhaps one of the best collections of poetry ever assembled, Sylvia Plath's poems are a must read for Plath fans and poetry buffs alike. Listed in chronological order (as much as possible), readers should pay particular attention to the poems from the summer of 1962 until the last poems in 1963 to fully appreciate the groundbreaking, enigmatic verse that defines Sylvia Plath. In addition to fifty poems written during her years as an undergrad at Smith College, there is a very interesting selection of notes including the original order of poems in Plath's Ariel collection (the order of the posthumous collection was altered following her death). A wonderful gift for (literate) college students (and not just English majors).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is work of the highest potency and widest influence, even outside of poetic writing. Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, and even Madonna have all mentioned reading Plath's poems. As a Salon.com writer put it, "if we could bottle her verse, it would be the strongest brew in the bar."

Some of Plath's phrases stand in the lyrical company of Yeats, her imagery in the company of Rimbaud -- but the mournful obsessiveness, lit with fury, is hers alone. Her late work is a de Chirico landscape come to life. "The Moon and the Yew Tree" is like reading a Van Gogh.

Take the journey. Start off casually, flipping through to find the shorter poems. Then, find yourself addicted until you're scouring the dense early work and the juvenilia, fiending for just one more hit of the imagery and phrasing that goes off like a firecracker "through the black amnesias of heaven."

In this book, readers will confront the poet who wrote "where spilt lives congeal and stiffen to history." Plath is the most Disquieting Muse.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2000
Format: Perfect Paperback
Sylvia Plath's life has passed into legend and probably overshadowed the work of an amazing and important poet. That she never achieved the success and critical acceptance she craved during her lifetime was perhaps inevitable, and ultimately what drove her to produce an incredible glut of poems just before she died. These Ariel poems are what made Plath's name, and they are fantastic. Her use of language is brutal, stark, desperate and desperately moving - like no one else before her. The cadences of her poems, regardless of whether or not you understand the words, are remarkably powerful and capture what she must have been feeling - the bruising, paralysing anger mingled with the corrosive bitterness of betrayal and the knowledge that vain hope in the face of despair may not be enough to live on. Read the poems and marvel at their beauty and their humanity.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 1998
Format: Perfect Paperback
Sylvia Plath's poetry ranges from exuberant to searingly painful. Ted Hughes, her husband and one of formost poets and critics in the English language, has done a masterful job in designing this collection and adding editorial explications. Sylvia Plath's poetry has been, at times, usurped by feminist ideologues for purposes it was not intended for. It stands in it's own right, though, as the primarily autobiographical story of a young woman's struggles and triumphs, written with clarity and brilliance. Plath is one of the formost American poets of the century, and regardless of what some fuddy duddy over intellectualized critics might say of her work, it is a joy and often a sorrow to read.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was eagerly expecting this book.
The poetry of Plath does not need any more praises, for her name and fame already bring with themselves all the admiration from the critics and the public alike, amassed in time with sustained ardour.
But what did negatively surprised me for a book of collected poems from such a renowned author was the overall quality of the volume's presentation. The paper severely lacks in quality. It's of course darker than the usual good quality paper and it is a bit coarse. I would've probably suggested a laminated book cover, rather than the plain and frail paperback, which can easily get stained (and you couldn't clean it as efficiently as a laminated one), if not a hardback.
My opinion always was that the presentation of a book should at least try to come close to the art of an author's creation. But this certainly isn't the case here. I'm disappointed.
I give with all one's heart 5 stars to the poetry of Sylvia Plath, and also to the introduction and notes, and 1 star to the quality of the book. If it would be possible to Amazon to introduce two kind of item rates: one for the writer's efficacy as a literary craftsman and another one for the book's presentation.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I thought I owned all the poems she had because I had "Crossing the Water", "The Colossus", and "Ariel". But this book has a large number of unpublished poems, and poems that were published but not selected for those collections. In addition, the footnotes and commentary by her husband Ted Hughes are invaluable and fascinating. A must for Plath scholars and fans.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has not discovered Plath's poetry-- distinctly superior to her prose-- would be greatly served to seek out a slim volume called "Crossing the Water." This haunting collection features most of her greatest poems from what I think to be her most creative years: 1957-1959. If these don't grab you, then give up on her altogether. However, the Collected Poems are the inevitable place to continue since they include her early promising works, as well as those dark pithy gems that characterize her bitterly twisted slide into the furthest reaches of her capacity for cynicism and despair.
A superb collection.
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