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The Colossus and Other Poems Paperback – May 19, 1998
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made Sylvia Plath our acknowledged Queen of Sorrows, the spokeswoman for our most
private, most helpless nightmares. . . . Her poetry is as deathly as it is impeccable;
it enchants us almost as powerfully as it must have enchanted her." --Joyce Carol Oates,
The New York Times
"Sylvia Plath's eye is sharp . . . and her wits responsive to what she sees." --Richard Howard,Poetry
"...The Colossus, which appeared earlier in England to unusual acclaim [was] her first volume to be published in America. Certainly the praise bestowed on her by British critics is warranted; Sylvia Plath is indeed a rare talent and a consummate craftsman...her powerful poems crackle and smolder with energy."--Guy Owen, Books Abroad
"She steers clear of feminine charm, deliciousness, gentility, supersensitivity and the act of being a poet. She simply writes good poetry."--Al Alvarez, London Observer
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Top Customer Reviews
In "Hardcastle Crags," we have an analogue for a woman's heels against the pavement: "Flintlike, her feet struck / Such a racket of echoes." We have the slovenly slush of the tide at Point Shirley, where the poet's grandmother "kept house / Against what the sluttish, rutted sea could do." We have in other slant-rhymed terza-rima, and intricate stanza shapes reminiscent of Richard Wilbur and his lyric called "Beasts."
And has anyone captured the somnolent wakefulness of "the chilly no-man's-land of five o'clock in the morning" better than Sylvia Plath in "The Ghost's Leavetaking"?
There are poems about mushrooms, moles, and men in black. There is a homage to the artist Leonard Baskin, renowned as a maker of woodcuts. A keen visual sense in these poems leads us not to be surprised when we learn that Plath worked well as a painter of watercolours.
Her second pre-posthumous volume, "Ariel," is perhaps more famous for its unselfsparing chronicle of a crashing marriage and of suicidal depression. Its fiercely unfettered cadences and controversial images attracted immediate attention, praise and opprobrium. But this reviewer feels that the poems of "Colossus" represent the superior achievement, possessing a technique and a sonic command surpassed by precious few poets of our age.
Plath died at a young age and might have changed her mind about 'The Colossus' poems had she lived long enough to reevaluate them. Fortunately, her public sees a great deal of the collection's value, at least in terms of its refinement and precision. Even when disregarding its subject matters, 'The Colossus' can be viewed as a woman's treatise on the poetic art.
First published in 1960, 'The Colossus & Other Poems' offers forty titles, many of which were written at the Yaddo artists' colony in Saratoga Springs, New York, and published in such magazines as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and Encounter. The poems do not follow a specific order, but are arranged to supply contrasts in mood. Several of Plath's best known poems, including 'Night Shift,' 'The Colossus,' 'The Disquieting Muses,' 'The Beekeeper's Daughter,' and 'The Stones,' can be found in this 84-page collection.
On the surface, Plath's early poetry looks naïve. Her stanzas are always flush left with capital letters. The number of lines per stanza is usually consistent. Her metrics are flawless. But when examining the poems repeatedly, it becomes clear that Plath's work has manifold meanings; how deeply we see is based on how deeply we're willing to look. Even in simple narratives like 'Sow,' 'The Bull of Bendylaw,' and 'Snakecharmer,' Plath seems to be winking at us through her underlying ideas on human relationships.Read more ›
I do not, however, mean to imply that this is not a useful book for aspiring poets to read. It is, doubtless, a very important book to read if one wishes to understand how Plath developed into the brilliant, oracular voice that spouted "Ariel." And since Sylvia Plath started writing poetry seriously at a very early age, it is perhaps unfair to dismissively refer to this book -- which she published at the ripe old age of 25 -- as her "early work." There are many remarkable things about this book, not the least of which is the way Plath elevates mundane topics (e.g., men working the night shift, or prize pigs) to the level of high poetry, armoring them with an impervious Dante-esque dignity. To Plath, even the smallest things in life are worthy of attention.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great poet who committed suicide because of her wandering husbandPublished 12 months ago by B. Brenner
A most excellent book of poems that helped me create some of my poems. You will enjoy this book thoroughly.Published 12 months ago by Jt
A good collection of her work. Probably the best book of poems she wrote.Published 14 months ago by John T. Ryan
What can I say, there is just not enough of Sylvia Plath in the world.
Plath was the most extreme, deeply and harshly honest writer that I have ever read. Read more
I could never thoroughly express my gratitude to miss plath for bringing such words and works into my life. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Sylvia Nox
It is a great book. Unfortunately my English knowledge is not enough for reading this work. I hope to read it later when I will have learned better English.Published 21 months ago by Enrique B.
I started reading Sylvia's work in my literature class in school (ugh, 20ish years ago!) and her words have stayed with me. Read morePublished on May 6, 2014 by Professor Cake