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The Colossus Essay

2721 words - 11 pages

This poem by Sylvia Plath was written in 1959 and gave name to her first collection of poems The Colossus and Other Poems in which it is already included. This collection was published in 1960 and since this moment she was recognized as a young new talent because of her poetry techniques. Regarding some biographical data, we should take into account that Otto Plath, that is Sylvia’s father, died after a long period of untreated diabetes when she had just eight years old. Facing the death of someone you love is not something easy to deal with for an eight-year-old girl; she was strongly affected by the loss of her father.
Many of her poems were influenced by her father’s death. For ...view middle of the document...

The speaker of the poem is a first person speaker, probably Plath herself addressing to her own father, in this case to his memories. The repetition of the personal pronoun “I” throughout the poem serves as clear evidence to state a first person speaker.
Considering rhyme and rhythm, this poem does not follow any specific pattern. It is characterized by the use of free verse although all the stanzas are formed by five lines each. This regular and tidy appearance of the poem resembles the way the speaker of the poem is trying to collect and tidy up all the broken pieces of this colossus’s statue. Besides, there is no rhyme in the poem since Plath doesn't use any of the typical poetic techniques like assonance or alliteration among others. We could say that the poem acquires the form of a conversation, and hence it has a conversational tone. The imagery used in the poem and the lack of those poetic conventions (conversational form) we have already mentioned above, contributes to make this poem an intimate and personal one.
Syntactically, there are several points in the poem which visually breaks the tidiness described above when referring to meter. As an example, in line 17, it appears a caesura or a pause just before she directly addresses her father:

A blue sky out of the Oresteia 
Arches above us. O father, all by yourself 
By doing so, Plath highlights the importance of those words, referring specifically to her father since he is actually the main topic during the whole poem. She wanted us to focus on that concrete part of the line so she uses this technique (caesura) to emphasize these key words in the poem. She explicitly states “O father” which undoubtedly
In addition, the structure of the poem is broken in more parts. For instance, we find some stanzas continues in the transition on the following stanza, as in lines 19-22 and lines 24-27:
Lines 19-22I open my lunch on a hill of black cypress. 
Your fluted bones and acanthine hair are littered In their old anarchy to the horizon-line. 
It would take more than a lightning-stroke  | Lines 24-27Nights, I squat in the cornucopia 
Of your left ear, out of the wind, Counting the red stars and those of plum-color. 
The sun rises under the pillar of your tongue.  |

By these visually broken parts on the poem, it acquires the form of a fractured poem, resembling the shattered pieces or remnants of the statue, the colossus, and also representing Plath’s damaged and disturbed psyche, broken because of her father’s loss.
Regarding vocabulary and terminology, she uses some hyphenation (“mule-gray”, “pig-grunt”) just to transmit the terms in her own words to the reader. These neologisms help to perceive the sounds of the animals in our minds as well as the image of the animals too.
In the first two lines, the speaker is attempting to collect and piece the different parts of this broken colossus. The colossus is a metaphor used to refer to her father during the whole...

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