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Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 421

I shall never get you put together entirely,

Pieced, glued, and properly jointed.
The opening lines of the poem encapsulate the speaker's frustration with the fact that she can't reconcile in her memory all the different aspects of her father. She can't understand him or feel like she knows who he really was, and without this understanding she can't feel at peace. Without a coherent understanding of her father, it seems as if there will always be some part of herself which remains incomplete. In the quotation and throughout the poem, Plath uses the statue of Colossus as a symbol of a father. The statue was destroyed by an earthquake, much as Plath's relationship with her father was destroyed by the figurative earthquake of his early death. These parallels between Plath's biography and the poem's subject matter suggests that there are similarities between the speaker and Plath herself.

Your fluted bones and acanthine hair are littered

In their old anarchy to the horizon-line.

These lines, which straddle stanzas four and five, imply the extent of the speaker's preoccupation with her father. The bones which litter the horizon ostensibly allude to the remains of the statue after it was destroyed by the earthquake. Implicitly, and more significantly, the bones metaphorically represent the legacy of the father-figure, namely the memories of him which litter the landscape of his daughter's life. Wherever she looks, she is reminded of her father and of his absence. The fact that the bones are "littered / In their old anarchy" links back to the idea that she can't bring those memories together into one coherent picture or understanding of her father.

My hours are married to shadow.

No longer do I listen for the scrape of a keel

On the blank stones of the landing.

These lines conclude the poem, and readers can infer from them that the speaker feels lonely and sad. When she says that she is metaphorically "married to shadow," she perhaps means that her life is lived constantly in the shadow of her father. Her life is thus, figuratively speaking, cold and dark. The "keel" that she no longer listens for refers to a ship coming into harbor. The ship and the landing here may represent the impossible closure that the speaker seeks in her relationship with her father. She no longer has any hope that the ship and the landing will come together; in other words, she no longer has any hope that she and her father will ever have closure to their relationship.

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