The Colossus and Other Poems


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A slim book of 45 of Sylvia Plath’s poems selected by Ted Hughes. They are taken from The Colossus, Ariel, Crossing the Water, Winter Trees and Sylvia Plath: The Collected Poems. Interesting to see which poems Ted Hughes selected, but disappointing in that Faber and Faber promises a preface in which the editors express their “personal and critical reactions”. There is no preface and the poems are left to speak for themselves, which they are well able to do. The poems are arranged in chronological order of their composition rather than publication.


Prominent journalist, poet and literary critic for The Observer newspaper, Al Alvarez, called the posthumous re-release of the book, after the success of Ariel, a “major literary event” and wrote of Plath’s work:

“She steers clear of feminine charm, deliciousness, gentility, supersensitivity and the act of being a poetess. She simply writes good poetry. And she does so with a seriousness that demands only that she be judged equally seriously… There is an admirable no-nonsense air about this; the language is bare but vivid and precise, with a concentration that implies a good deal of disturbance with proportionately little fuss.”

Seamus Heaney said of The Colossus: “On every page, a poet is serving notice that she has earned her credentials and knows her trade.”


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