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The Colossus

     Although Sylvia Plath did not gain much recognition in her own time, her poetry is certainly worth a read.  The Colossus was her first published book of poetry and has a lot to offer to today’s poets.  Plath sometimes merges classic mythology with present-day issues and language.  The poem “Two Sisters of Persephone” uses the myth as a tool in the poem, but Plath’s poem itself is essentially modern.  Plath’s focus in the book falls mostly on nature and death—and usually nature in tandem with death.  Her language is dark, yet concise.  She does not over-describe a scene.  Instead, she states the situation or description very bluntly, devoid of over-zealous similes.  It gives the impression that her work is very real, not contrived.  She is not trying to write about death as a poet—she is a woman talking about death in poetic form. 

     One of the best poems, because of its deviation from traditional nature-inspired poems is “Frog Autumn”:

Frog Autumn

Summer grows old, cold-blooded mother

The insects are scant, skinny.

In these palustral homes we only

Croak and wither.

 

Mornings dissipate in somnolence.

The sun brightens tardily

Among the pithless reeds.  Flies fail us.

The fen sickens.

 

Frost drops even the spider. Clearly

The genius of plentitude

Houses himself somewhere. Our folk thin

Lamentably.

 

     Where other poets might overdo descriptions of nature or focus on it from a person’s perspective, I respect that although she chose a familiar subject, Plath chose a unique route.  I would recommend The Colossus to anyone interested in poetry that is both hearkening back to the classic yet modern and edgy at the same time.