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The Colossus

The Colossus

by Sylvia Plath

Stanza 3 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 11-12

Scaling little ladders with glue pots and pails of Lysol
I crawl like an ant in mourning

  • Again, the speaker describes herself as a caretaker of the statue. The reference to "glue pots" takes us back to line 2, where she talked about trying to glue it back together again. 
  • We also notice how this reference to "Lysol," a very modern cleaning product, sticks out like a sore thumb in this poem so full of classical references.
  • It lets us now that this is a woman from the modern era in this ruined, classical landscape. 
  • By describing herself as an ant, the speaker gives us a sense of how small she feels as she crawls around the remnants of the huge statue.
  • It's interesting that she specifically says that she's an "ant in mourning." Have you ever seen an ant mourn something? Yeah, us either. Really, we're not sure they do, but... hey, would we know what it looked like if they did? (Maybe they wear tiny black outfits?)
  • Whatever that case, the use of the word "mourning" here gives us the sense that the speaker is grieving a great loss of some kind. 
  • It might also be a play on words, telling us that this is her "morning" ritual.

Lines 13-15

Over the weedy acres of your brow
To mend the immense skull-plates and clear
The bald, white tumuli of your eyes. 

  • We get more great imagery of the ruined statue in these lines. 
  • We can really see all the little weeds poking up from the shattered remnants of the statue's "brow."
  • The speaker struggles to do her best to heave the slabs of its "skull-plates" back together.. 
  • The speaker also slips into some kind of intense death imagery here with the word "skull-plates," which are slabs of bone that make up the human skull.
  • Also, she calls the eyes of the statue "tumuli." Tumuli are burial mounds. 
  • This funereal imagery connects back to that talk of the "ant in mourning" in line 12.
  • Okay, seriously, though—we want to know for real what or who this statue represents. 
  • It's been going on for a long time now, so we're ready to dub it an extended metaphor.
    .

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