Mushrooms – Sylvia Plath

The other weekend when walking through the woods I noticed the sudden appearance of little groups of mushrooms sprouting from everything. I was so intrigued by them, I proceeded to take photos to the point of becoming obsessed.

When deciding on a poem for today, I came across this poem, Mushrooms written by Sylvia Plath. It is from her first collection, The Colossus and Other Poems. It is said to explore the idea that the oppressed will quietly rise up or that the meek shall inherit the earth. It is also said that with her history with men is she suggesting that women will eventually take over the opposite sex. This poem could also be said to have the potential to give a voice to numerous voiceless people.

As with most poems, there are many different ideas when it comes to it’s interpretation. Another is that the mushroom metaphor fits with the image of a pregnant woman and the growing foetus. Another view is that it is about immigrants. I’m now going to be very controversial and suggest that maybe the poem is just about mushrooms.


Mushrooms – Sylvia Plath

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

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.


Photograph by Jacqueline Nash

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