Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

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

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem Mushrooms

51 Comments

  1. Willy says:

    The poem is about ‘mushrooms’! nothing more and nothing less. The miracle and majesty and might of nature.
    All this pseudo-intellectual interpretation is just cranial fungii!!

  2. unhappy says:

    it was okay but not the best

  3. uday says:

    i am doin IB and my teacher gave me this poem for my commentry and i am so glad i got this poem becoz its sounds stupid if u are hearing it for the first time but it has really got depth in it when you relli understand it!!

  4. Lindsey says:

    Oh, come now. You can’t definitively say that a poem “means” this, that, or the other. The beauty of a well-written poem or any piece of art (such as this) is that the interpretation of the meaning is ambiguous and depends largely on the personal experiences that the reader brings whether consciously or subconsiously. This is why we are attracted to certain pieces of art- it reflects pieces of art back to ourselves so that we know or see our experiences in a different way or through another lens. That is why truly great art speaks to people of multiple, varied backgrounds- it is ambiguous enough to resonate with a variety or overarching theme of human experience. China or any other nation, women, the impoverished, or any socially marginalized group…. the poem is meant to mean whatever is meaningful to YOU, the reader.

  5. Jack the poet says:

    I have to agree with Roger the Cabin Boy (the battiest name by the way Pathias).This poem is blatently about china. A growing nation finding its way to world domination. Also the chinnese people are incredibly tiny and so can fit into little nooks and crannies just like mushrooms. Otherwise its about Tibetan Freedom, Muslim extremists or even Cypriots.

  6. Roger the cabin boy says:

    This poem is about the growing power of a nation, possible china. this is because there are a growing numbe of people, which matches up with the poem. Also the chinese were rated as secondclasss citizens because of the fear of communism so they were ‘shadowed’ by the class above them

  7. Elowise Vache says:

    This is an alternative view of Mushrooms, not the clychee aproach of ‘women’ or ‘nature’
    Mushrooms is a poem about love and the uprising of a nation. This nation is my china! You can tell it is about china because it says growing numbers, people working in shadows ( sweat shops ) soon to gain a prize for their work.
    Soon will dominate other nations, and will no longer be kept in the dark.
    Go to this site its great. http://www.englisharts.com

  8. allison says:

    this poem is very easy but yet confusing, i just dont know what it actually represents

  9. ea says:

    I don’t think this has anything to do with women. I think this has to do with her poems.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Hello, assuming this poem is about the feminist movement I would say that it has a deeper meaning than just the idea of the inevitability of woman’s rise to power.
    You see despite the fact that mushrooms (as an organism) grow quick and numerous their growth is also very short lived and only sustainable in very specific conditions. Because it was written from the point of view of the mushroom what I believe Plath was trying to express was the cutest in virtue in the struggle of the mushroom but the poem also high-lights the weakness in their achievement.

  11. YUKTA says:

    When i first read Mushrooms..i thought it was just some poem about a group of mushrooms and how they grow…but it surely turned out to have a rather intresting and complex meaning.the poem is not only vividly written with use of many literary devices but the message it is giving is very intresting. i think mushrooms talks about women and their empowerment which is a must. no one should be discriminated because of any reason and definately NOT because of their gender! this poem is one of my favorites and a must read!!!

  12. Nepali manche says:

    Good poem but its hard to understand. The only comment that i have to give is “this poem really tell about the rise of woman in this mercyless world”

  13. ABHI says:

    I believe this is a very strong poem abt women tht’s ever wriiten. when i first read it i thought plath had a strong character and she was a role model for women but after knowing about her death i think she actually had a very weak charcter. However the important thing is that it is an inspirational poem and all of us should DEFINATELY read it!!! i loved this poem, it actually made sense to me. The short phrases added to the Effect, The insidious effect. Sylvia’s poem has deeply touched me and her way of articulating her emotions is simply superb! How I wish she were alive!!!!! There are so many things to explore in this small poem of around 50 words!!!!!!!!!!a must read

  14. Gunjan says:

    I believe this is a very strong poem tht’s ever wriiten. when i first read it i thought plath had a strong character but after knowing about her death i think she actually had a very weak charcter. However the important thing is that it is an inspirational poem and all of us should DEFINATELY read it!!!

  15. Alina says:

    i loved this poem, it actually made sense to me. The short phrases added to the Effect, The insidious effect. Sylvia’s poem has deeply touched me and her way of articulating her emotions is simply superb! How I wish she were alive!!!!! There are so many things to explore in this small poem of around 50 words!!!!!!!!!!a must read

  16. Emily says:

    I feel that the poem is very much about change. Change creeps up and by the morning it is there. I think that change is very strong and can move even the most concrete things in life like when she mentions “even the paving” and refers to them as “nudgers and shovers”.

  17. Cayley says:

    Seriously, if you’re trying to make an intelligent comment, check your spelling…I’m assuming we’ve at least all been through grade school.

  18. Chhoksum says:

    Mushrooms is a great poem and infact it’s the best i’ve read so far. I just love the way she has used the literary devices. The poem is very simple but it conveys a big message for the world. Her work is feminist. The illustration of unexpected mushrooms is used to reflect females. Mushrooms don’t need much to sustain just like women, yet they grow in numbers. They don’t need to be taken care of and they’re found abundantly.Women don’t need to be aggressive or loud to get heard, they just simply grow together silently and create a surprise attack!I luv it. 🙂

  19. Jasmine says:

    according to other websites,this poem is about how mushrooms just seem to “pop” up without anyone noticing. That’s what Sylvia Plath thinks will happen with women. Without men realsing they were “growing” they will “pop” up and there will be no stopping them. They will be equal and a threat to male society.
    the person thinks that it is also talking about the ways in which men and women gain power. Women don’t need to be aggresive or loud can just simply grow topgether silently and create a surprise attack. Another website states that The poem is about her imminent birth, the mushroom is her unborn baby. It is about the growth of a child in her womb, like the growth of mushrooms in a dark and airless room. The whole poem is an extended metaphor. She is terrified about what is going on in her body with the ‘soft fists’ ‘hammers’ and ‘rams’. The baby is taking over her life just as mushrooms take over everything in their path. (i’m doing a Literature project for school so i’m researching on other people’s analysis on the poem) i hope that helps to answer any doubts =)

  20. stephaine says:

    does anybody know when sylvia plath wrote “mushrooms”? if u do please write to me at : clover601857@hotmail.com

  21. Patrick says:

    This poem has an ominous moon. The poem talks about how mushrooms grow secretly, and therefore the meaning is about a mass slowly rising ebcoming more and more powerful without anyone noticing. The mass can be anyone’s own intepretation. Some people have said it is women and i also agree with that. There are many techniques used, such as assonance and aliiteration.

  22. varin galla says:

    I think mushrooms buy sylvia plath is about mushrooms growing. The way such small insignificant things such as mushrooms can be shown as strong and can end up taking over the world. Now there are many different interpretations of this poem. Sylvia Plath wrote many poems about women rights and this could be about women rising to power and becoming more than just the insignificant beings the men see them as.

  23. Jennifer says:

    I’m surprised by these comments, I guess I must be daft because it seems to me that the poem is really about mushrooms.

  24. shania says:

    i thought this poem was about how she died which had to deal with the gas that she inhaled which was what she was trying to do but otherwise this poem was quite complicated but very enjoyful to read

  25. Bryan McClain says:

    I am doing this poem for an english project im doing, i picked this poem because it was the easiest and shortest out of the choices to memerize. But im glad i picked it because it’s such a deep poem in so many ways.

  26. Nicolina says:

    Sad but it is the true reflection of her life… of course involving her clinical depression

  27. helen freeman says:

    sorry for the spelling mistake ment to say her- recomend the poem though

  28. helen freeman says:

    on close analysis of this poem we learn of the sadness it expresses of perhaps yhe poets life and ultimately could reflect her suicide,sad but touching

  29. Chloe-Louise says:

    I think mushrooms are exelent and very very important in our social order.

  30. Perani says:

    i’m 14 years-old and we had to do this poem for a project and when we read the poem we decided that this poem was about women and how they had to take over from man..they can’t just be shelves, tables, meek, and edible..women must multiply, and inherit the earth!!
    at first i found this poem really stupid…bt the more my group and I looked for the true meaning..this poem became very interesting..now I find it a very good and interesting poem

  31. Jonas says:

    I think this poem is about her depression, and that the speaker is not Plath but her inner demons, so to speak, quietly growing while she lives her life as if everything is normal, and then one day they completely fill her mind.

  32. Brita says:

    I think it’s rather shallow to think this poem is only about one issue. It is a poem, after all, and can mean nearly anything in the entire world. On my first read I found this poem to be a metaphor to society, how we spread, grow, “inherit the earth” in a grotesque manner. Have you seen ants or mushrooms spread? It’s not an appealing thing, to me. I found it to be more about humans overtaking of the planet (and essential destruction of all that’s good)

    But as the good ole’ bible says “Seek and ye will find”. and I believe feminist have an eye peeled for anything that can be twisted into feminism (Granted this poem easily could be about feminism), and I perhaps am seeking for a poem about mankinds destruction.

    To each their own. If you’re trying to pass some test on this; english teachers perfer free thinkers. Dont requrgitate nonsense you read. Think for yourself 😉

    Personally: I loved this poem ^.^

  33. Xin says:

    The comments for these poems totally ROCKED. I had no idea what it was referring to, being the ignorant 15-year-old I am, but with a little nudge in the right direction, I’m hoping I scored high in my literature test. My teached picked this poem to study.

    On reflection, it’s very subtle, very deep, and very powerful when you think about it. Sylvia seems so very brilliant, it’s awe inspiring! Mushrooms!

  34. joodie says:

    I didn’t like this poem. It didn’t have nearly enough alliteration.

  35. chasape says:

    i think that this poem was written about the way that she died. think about it she commited suicide after serving her kids milk and cookies by leaving the oven door open with the gas running. she died discreetly, no body sees, no body tries to stop, heaving up needles, and she was bland-mannered….

    re-read this poem and think of these things…

  36. chasape says:

    i think that this poem is about how she died. read the poem again and think abotu the way that she died.(she died by closing all the doors in the kitchen after leaving the oven open with the gas running with right after serving her kids milk and cookies)right back after you re-read the poem

  37. jason says:

    this poem was alright

  38. Marco Zazzini says:

    To be able to analyze this poem, we must consider how women were treated through out the 50s. Sylvia Plath developed the idea of a community of women to fight against male chauvinism in order to change their role in society.
    Sylvia Plath in this poem gave the reader an idea of how women were treated that time, how they had to fight for theirn own fights, to grow in society and to reach equality with men.

  39. martin luzuriaga says:

    y like this poems because its abaut the persistance that the nature have to conquer our planet and survive

  40. Guido Martinez Dorr says:

    In my opinion this poem is a exelent description of the feminist movement. That even if it`s hided and criticiced by society as an antimale movement it grows. Slowly and quietly with out asking for the atention of the world up to the time when it will be a group to take in account.
    The poem is write with a lot of metafores but with simple words.
    In my opinion a great poem to take in account.

  41. Tomas Iannetta says:

    I liked very mucho the poem because can be analised wiht diferents points of view.
    Sylvia Plath tries to tell as (the word) the feminist side.

  42. Carolina Rattay says:

    We can describe this poem as an extended metaphor or properly said “Allegory”. It’s fascinating this method used by the author to analise and describe how women won, gradually, ground over our society. Of course to have a better apreciation on this poem we should take on account how women were treated before the 50’s and 60’s. She encoureges women to do more than being wives and mothers. “Our foot’s in the door”, what a significate metaphor to describe what Sylvia Plath wants to transmit, WOMEN WON’T GIVE UP.

  43. maximiliano greco says:

    The poem talk about mushrooms, Sylvia Plath, the principal character, describe the caracteristics of the mushrooms. he said that are silently, they grow very fast. She think that the society is like the mushrooms, that she is a mushrooms too, because the caracteristics between the women´s of the society in the 50`s and the mushrooms are sumilar.

  44. Kevin Vogel says:

    I find mushrooms very enjoyable , because is very smart silvya plath describing the poem.
    We can think , that the poem refers to many things , as women , drugs and othes.Because this talk about something that nobody sees and its growing up , until one day this will change.

  45. Eugenia Venditti, Victoria Guida says:

    In my opinion, this poem, reflects how roughly treated women where in society through the 50’s. She develops the idea of working all women together in order to change their role in society to reach equality. In order not being a housekeeper, a mother, or a wife.
    Sylvia Plath was a feminist who lived in a stage in which nobody take account the job, or labours women made.
    That’s why we can say that these mushrooms represent the women of that stage, because they were trying to grow all together.

  46. Marco Zazzini says:

    To be able to analize tis poem, we must consider how women were treat through the 50s. So when Sylvia Plath wrote this poem showed her feelings about this topic because she lived in a period in which there were no recognitions for women and the effort they made.
    Finally she tried to trasmite to women that they have to fight for there own rights, to grow in society and to reach equallity with men.

  47. Federico Medrano says:

    what would sylvia plath wants to tell by describing mushrooms?
    the poem by silvia plath refers to women and how they were treat in a male chauvinism society , “nobody sees us”.the writer wants the reader to discover that women are very similar to mushroom in how they were treatand behave in society “very whitely , discreetly, very quietly”
    what sylvia wants to tell about is that by being to many , they would fight for their rights .

  48. Matias Magni says:

    “Mushrooms” is a poem by Sylvia Plath that can be asociated to many things, that means, the characteristics which the author shows about the mushrooms are very similar to other objects or people.
    In this case, it seems that the author chose to compare mushrooms to women. She tries to describe the woman that lived through the 50s, and the function they had on the family, because they had to serve their husband and take care of the children: “We are shelves, we are tables, we are meek, we are edible…”
    Sylvia Plath is a feminist writer who finally tries to transmite through the poem that women have to multiply, do not give up to the needs of equality with men and the search of a new role of women in the society as should be work and their own lives.She concludes by saying: “Our kind multiplies: We shall by morning Inherit the earth. Our foot’s in the door”

  49. MACHARIA MICHAEL says:

    great poem .found it irresistible .had to read it WHOLE .HAD NOT IMAGINED MOST OF US ARE LIKE MUSHES.
    LITTLE
    LIKEABLE
    EDIBLE
    JUST HAPPY TO BE !

  50. Paula Nader says:

    In my opinion I think that the persona who wrote the poem, Sylvia Platch, wanted us to know and to analyze women living in the sociaty of the USA in the fifties, when women had to take care of their children and husbands, always with a smile on their faces, very well dressed with a pearl string and also with a perfect hairstyle. Women had to work hard, they didn’t hear or see, they only accepted things as they were.
    Although there are sone stanzas that show feminisim there are others that show some radical groups that had appeared during history as communism, nazis, for example “little or nothing, so many of us!, some many of us!… Nudgers and shovers, in spite of ourselves, our kind multiplies…”

  51. Milagros says:

    This poem by Sylvia Plath reflects before the 60`s how badly treated women where in society. She develops the idea of “Joining and Fighting” all together in order to change their role. Not to be just mothers or wives, but to start playing a role in every aspect of society and having the same rights as men.
    Sylvia Plath was a feminist who lived in a period in which there were no recognitions for women and the labour they did.
    That`s why we can say that these “Mushrooms” that are joined in order to spread, represent this group of women that are trying to grow and change the inequalities for women in society.

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