“Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We
Diet on Water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Little or nothing.”
– “Mushrooms,” from The Colossus and Other Poems
A poem expressing the worldly woes of our favorite fungi? Given our obsession with the spore-bearing dome clusters (have you seen our logo?), it’s no surprise that American poet Sylvia Plath‘s “Mushrooms” resonates with us. Although, that’s just one of the many reasons why we chose Plath’s classic collection of poetry for our April Book of the Month Giveaway.
If you’ve ever studied, written, or just appreciated the genre that Allen Ginsberg described as that which makes “…the private world public,” you may have been introduced to Plath’s work when exploring the mid-20th-century trend of confessional poetry. As one of the sub-genre’s most notable names, Plath produced pieces that exposed the rawness of self, allowing the debilitating manifestations of her struggle with depression to lie naked on the page – regardless of the consequences for baring such candor.
Her words illustrate earthly beauty, not by showing it through rose-colored glasses, but by revealing its bruises. These flawed perfections are delivered in the way of truly lovely language, like in her title poem, “The Colossus”:
“Counting the red stars and those of plum-
The sun rises under the pillar of your tongue.
My hours are married to shadow.”
Plath’s chilling images seem to lose some of their weight the instant you need them to, allowing the reader to maintain a childlike innocence in spite of the coarse realities her work delivers. To see the world through Plath’s eyes is to see it through the splintered peephole of a barn door – you can hold your face close to it, but one inch too close, and the soft skin of your cheek may tear.
By way of playful alliteration and well-shaped form, her poems will fill you with a melancholic delight. To this day, Plath’s poems honor one of the sole responsibilities of timeless art – they possess the ability to change one’s perspective, be it for better, or for worse.
Discussion question: What was the last piece of art or literature that changed your perspective?
Tell us and fellow blog readers about it by commenting below! For participating, you’ll be in the running for a free copy of Plath’s The Colossus and Other Poems.
- You have until April 22, 2011 to participate.
- Though you may leave comments after the above date, any comments left after April 22 will not be counted toward the giveaway.
- Only comments left on this blog post will be considered.
- We will contact you via e-mail if you are a winner.
- For more information, please see our Contest & Comments page.
Craving more perspective-altering inspiration? Check out our other Book of the Month titles in the ModCloth bookstore, and don’t forget to leave your own reviews when you’re finished reading!