Mushrooms Sylvia Plath - EIS-J-IBA1

Sylvia Plath’s
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.
At first glance, the reader can see that this poem is
about the growth of mushrooms in the wild.
 Looking at the background of this poem, it was
written in 1959. In the early 60s the women’s
liberation movement took place.
 Thus, we derive a meaning from this poem, that the
growth of the mushroom, in this poem, represents
the early stages of the women’s liberation
Each stanza in the poem has 3 lines. It resembles
closely to the haiku, the Japanese poem, as it
consists of 3 unrhymed lines, 5 syllables and is used
to describe nature.
Shoulder through holes. We
Diet on water.
Plath starts the next
sentence on the previous
stanza to follow a set
pattern of 5 syllables per
There is a use of personal pronouns in this poem,
which represent the mushrooms. Interpreting this
poem, we derive the use of personal pronouns,
such as ‘us’ and ‘we’ to represent the women in
the women’s liberation movement.
So many of us!
So many of us!
The whole poem is a metaphor, as it indirectly
describes women’s liberation movement, which is
represented by the process of the growth of the
Take hold on the loam.
Loam means rich soil containing clay and decayed leaves. This is perfect
soil condition for mushrooms to grow in. In context of women’s liberation
movement, this means the women are going to take hold of the perfect
conditions to activate this movement.
Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.
Literal meaning is that nobody sees or stops the
mushrooms growing.
In context of the women’s liberation movement, at
that time no one imagined or saw this coming as
everyone believed that women are not capable
to create a movement that would work. Women
found the right time and acted swiftly, so this
actually happened.
Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles
These are two contrasting words as soft means something gentle and
delicate, while fists is a symbol of a fight and power. The word soft is
associated with women as they are fragile and they can not manage with
Heaving refers to lifting up heavy things. This represent the difficulties that
women had to deal with, while they wanted to get the right to speak up.
Plath uses personification to describe the
mushrooms. These human like characteristics, give
the impression that she talks about the women and
not mushrooms.
Our hammers, our rams
Plath uses the contradiction to describe women.
She talks how women use hammers and rams,
which are normally associated with men’s object.
This shows that women are strong and can deal
with all obstacles.
In the poem she shows that women’s place is in the
house, away from the politics.
On crumbs of shadow
Shadow means that
women were hidden
in shadow of men
and did not have
rights to speak up.
Plath shows the way of thinking at that time.
Women could not have their opinion and they
were supposed to stay in the kitchen and work at
Meek means quiet and
We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek
obedient, modest, or
someone who stays
away. This describes
the expectations men
had for women.
She says that they are shelves and tables, which are two objects associated
with the kitchen, the place in which women were supposed to be.
Nudgers and shovers
Sylvia Plath was well known for her feminism.
Nudgers and shovers describe the men who were
against the women liberation movement as they
believed that women should stay at home.
Sylvia Plath wants to break this stereotype and
show everyone that women have rights to be free
as well. It is mostly shown in two last stanzas.
Our kind multiplies:
We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Just like mushrooms can grow over the night, same
with the women liberation movement – there are
so many supporters that in a very short period of
time, they can recover and spread all over the
Our foot's in the door
This ending shows that they have made it and now
they have crossed the point and there is no way for
the men to stop them.
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