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Analysis and comments on The Colossus by Sylvia Plath

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Comment 15 of 85, added on January 14th, 2008 at 2:41 PM.

I do not think the thirty years should throw anyone off. She was trying to
figure him out and piece things together even before he died.

jean from United States
Comment 14 of 85, added on January 14th, 2008 at 2:23 PM.

I enjoyed getting into the background a little bit with my daughter, who
was studying the poem. She did some research and found the Colossus of
Rhodes broke into pieces 54 years after it was built, which was (about?)
the age of Otto Plath when he died. Also the fluted bones and acanthine
hair seem to be referring to broken down Corinthian columns (acanthus
leaves often adorned their capitals). Plus, of course, the reference to the
sun (the Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of Helios) and the sound of the
keel heard no more (it was the lighthouse guarding the harbor). The black
cypresses of the region also fill out the scene. Since Plath was so keen on
these details, I don't understand why she refers to a ROMAN forum, when
everything else, even the Oresteia (read "Electra complex"), is Greek.
Maybe it is because Roman discourse was known to be more "pithy", and her
father remained an enigma to her. She obviously revered him.

jean from United States
Comment 13 of 85, added on April 7th, 2006 at 5:37 PM.

Ivana, I like your interpretation/ analysis of the poem. I too see it that
way, though I mention god-husband-father. It also is interesting since
academia and literature were then very male-centric. Trying to please and
fit in makes sense. I also think many attempt to analyze a "confessional"
poet's poems through the events of her life. What matters is the lyrical
beauty and wit, at least for me. Thanks.

Lucy from United States
Comment 12 of 85, added on April 6th, 2006 at 11:58 AM.

This was the first song by Sylvia Plath I ever read, and I fell in love
with it and her poetry immediately. It's still my faovurite poem.

I generally agree with those who said that the poem is about her father,
but I don't think it's just that. Notice that she says she spent 30 years
trying to dredge his throat? Sylvia was 30 years old when she wrote this
poem. Her father died when she was about 10. So she didn't spend 30 years
trying to get to grips with his death. This enforces my feeling that this
poem is not as much about her father, the real Otto Plath, but about the
powerful male archetypical figure in her soul, her "animus", the dream
father-lover-husband figure she adores but feels opressed by, because she
cannot be free of it/him, and she cannot be happy because she doesn't have
him. This is how I felt about this poem when I first read it - and thatwas
before I had any idea about Sylvia Plath and her life. I felt it as my own
because I have never lived with my father and he never meant anything to
me, but I have been building an elusive dream male figure in my mind, you
could even say, a father/brother/lover/godlike figure.

"30 years" means that she has spent her entire life, eversince she was
born, taking care of that figure. After her father dies, she has been her
trying to re-build it.

Another thing I have to point out: I, too, felt, that she tended to blend
her father (or rather, her memory of him) and her husband, as seen in
"Daddy". But she wrote Colossus before she married Hughes, so "married to
shadow" had nothing to do with her marriage or his subsequent infidelity.
She is married to shadow because she has been living in the shadow of this
powerful male figure she has created in her mind, and she is "married"
(that is, she has tied her life to) a shadow - an elusive, unreal figure, a
ghost, an illusion.

"Daddy" is in a way a, a sequel to The Colossus. Here she was sadly
thinking about her life of memories and dreams, in "Daddy" she was full of
rage after her attempt to recreate this dream (her love and marriage to
Hughes) had fallen apart.

Ivana from Yugoslavia
Comment 11 of 85, added on March 5th, 2006 at 10:55 AM.

I think Frede's comment is being misconstrued. I feel she is being
sarcastic. As for spelling, she is probably not a native english speaker.


Lucy from United States
Comment 10 of 85, added on March 4th, 2006 at 11:02 PM.

Well FREDE its really too bad you can't put gender aside (I feel sorry for
you...) JAQUE you are too quick to judge SP. Yes she was bipolar, but at
that time it wasn't treated effectively,they used electric shock therapy,
she suffered through her manic depression all her life. All this aside I
think Colossus is a beautiful poem, she has finally understood that no
matter how hard she tries she cannot put her father's memory back together
entirely and therefore will never be free to forget. At the end I think she
refers to her husband as she is'married to a shadow' a reference perhaps to
his infidelity...

Amber from Canada
Comment 9 of 85, added on February 23rd, 2006 at 10:42 AM.

I think she is referring to father, husband and god. I see the first
stanza as a humorous description of male orgasm as "braying." The gigantic
male is statue and shelter and earth. She shelters in the ear. It is a
truly witty, sad and lovely poem. It took me thirty-five years to
appreciate Plath.

Lucy from United States
Comment 8 of 85, added on February 13th, 2006 at 10:22 PM.

I'm sorry you feel that way FREDE from Belgium but it is the genius of
Plath we all marvel at regardless of her gender. We should try to
appreciate poetry for what it is; not whom it is written by. And you may
want to check your spelling by the way.

John from Canada
Comment 7 of 85, added on February 8th, 2006 at 9:16 AM.

This poem is so beautiful, so encompassing. No matter what you believe it
represents (though I do agree in the significance of the statue as her
father), Sylvia Plath drags her life into the ancient with nostalgia,
fondness and overwhelming despair.

Jennifer from France
Comment 6 of 85, added on November 2nd, 2005 at 3:18 PM.

I believe the poem is talking about her father. In the poem she spent
thirty years trying to put the "statue" back together to no avail. This
represented her trying to get over her fathers death and realizing that it
would never be. The poem describes how she trys to put her father "back
together" and no matter how much time she spends on doing this task it
doesn't seem to make a difference.

Natasha from United States

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Information about The Colossus

Poet: Sylvia Plath
Poem: The Colossus
Volume: The Collected Poems
Year: 1959
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 12237 times
Poem of the Day: Jun 12 2006


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