By Sylvia Plath

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.

Summary of Mushrooms

  • Popularity of “Mushrooms”: “Mushrooms” By Sylvia Plath, a great American poet, and author, is a highly symbolic poetic piece. The poem speaks about the miraculous growth of the mushrooms amid tensions and rigidity of the world. Using mushrooms as a metaphor, the poet explains the struggling life of women having less or no value in the world. Although many authors try to shake the world regarding women’s rights, presenting them as mushrooms makes this poem laudable.
  • “Mushrooms” As a Representative of Struggle: This poem is about the efforts of women who try to make their space in the world. The writer compares their growth with that of mushrooms in the poem. The poem begins when the poet talks about the natural process of the growth of the mushrooms. She wonders how they appear seemingly out of nothing at night, making their presence felt in the morning. Slowly, they emerge on the earth, trying to dispel uncertainty. The description shows that they fear being noticed and anticipated. After struggling with the soil, the mushrooms force their way through the heavyweight of paving stones. Unfortunately, they lack sensory equipment like ears, voices, and eyes. After describing the process of their growth, the poet sheds light on their positive traits. To her, they are modest, undemanding, helpful, and optimistic. Although they are consumed at a large scale, yet this consumption fails to hurdle their rapid growth. Thus, after defeating various odds, they can have a foothold on the world’s stage despite facing subjugation.
  • Major Themes in “Mushrooms”: Problems confronting women, wonders of nature, and strength are the poem’s major themes. The poet has used mushrooms as a metaphor to highlight the undaunted yet continuous struggle of women, who try to defeat heavy odds, believing in their hidden strength. They hardly push their way, shoving and nudging up through the loam of the air. It has been ages that men silence women; they faced suppression and subjugation at every step. Now, they will stand for their equal rights in a world where they are considered inferior to men.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Mushrooms”

literary devices empower the writers; they enable them to present their ideas and emotions to the audiences in an impressive way. Sylvia Plath has also used various literary devices in this poem whose analysis is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “We are shelves, we are” and the sound of /o/ in “Our foot’s in the door.”
  2. Allegory: It is a figure of speech in which abstract ideas and principles are described in terms of characters, figures, and events. This is an allegorical poem that sheds light on the struggle of the women through the allegorical presentation of mushrooms.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /r/ in “We are shelves, we are, a black” and the sound of /n/ in “Bland-mannered, asking.”
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

“Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Sylvia Plath has used imagery in this poem such as “We are shelves, we are/Tables, we are meek”, “Our foot’s in the door” and “On crumbs of shadow.”
  2. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. The title of the poem is ironic as it hints about mushrooms but the poem is about the untiring struggle of the woman.
  3. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poet has used mushrooms as an extended metaphor in the poem to show the bold struggle of the women that how they suffer to win glory for themselves.
  4. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. The poet has personified mushrooms in the poem such as; “Our toes, our noses” and “Perfectly voiceless,/Widen the crannies.”
  5. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. “Our foot’s in the door” symbolizes the hope women bear in to hear for the future.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Mushrooms”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
  2. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are eleven stanzas in this poem with each comprising three lines.
  3. Tercet: A tercet is a three-lined stanza borrowed from Biblical Hebrew poetry. Here, each stanza is tercet.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful while talking about poverty or delivering a presentation on poverty.

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We
Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking”