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Ariel Paperback – 1 Jan 1968

4.3 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 86 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571086268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571086269
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 0.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Sylvia Plath churned out her final poems at the remarkable rate of two or three a day, masterworks Robert Lowell describes as written by "hardly a person at all...but one of those super-real, hypnotic, great classical heroines." Even more remarkable, she wrote them during one of the coldest, snowiest winters (1962-63) Londoners have ever known. Snowbound, without central heating, she and her two children spent much of their time sniffling, coughing, or running temperatures (In "Fever 103°" she writes, "I have been flickering, off, on, off on. / The sheets grow heavy as a lecher's kiss."). Pipes froze, lights failed, and candles were unobtainable.

As if these physical privations weren't enough, Plath was out in the cold in another sense--her husband, Ted Hughes, had left her for another woman earlier that year. Despite all this (or perhaps because of it), the Ariel poems dazzle with their lyricism, their surprising and vivid imagery, and their wit. Rather than confining herself to her bleak surroundings, Plath draws from a wide array of experience. In "Berck-Plage," for instance, clouds are "electrifyingly-coloured sherbets, scooped from the freeze." In "The Night Dances," the poet stands crib-side, revelling in her son's own brand of do-si-do: "Such pure leaps and spirals--Surely they travel / The world forever, I shall not entirely / Sit emptied of beauties, the gift / Of your small breath..."

Though at times they present the reader with hopelessness laid bare, these poems also teem with the brightest shards of a life, confounding those who merely look for the words of a gloomy, dispassionate suicide. Plath rose each morning in the final months of her life to "that still blue, almost eternal hour before the baby's cry" and left us these words like "axes/After whose stroke the wood rings..." --Martha Silano

Review

"Sylvia Plath's last poems have impressed themselves on many readers with the force of myth. They are among the handful of writings by which future generations will seek to know us and give us a name."-- "Critical Quarterly""It is fair to say that no group of poems since Dylam Thomas's "Deaths and Entrances" has had as vivid and disturbing an impact on English critics and readers as has "Ariel." Sylvia Plath's poems have already passed into legend as both representative of our present tone of emotional life and unique in their implacable, harsh brilliance...These poems take tremendous risks, extending Sylvia Plath's essentially austere manner to the very limit. They are a bitter triumph, proof of the capacity of poetry to give to reality the greater permanence of the imagined. She could not return from them."-- George Steiner, "The Reporter"

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read Plath inside out and backwards, and intermittently for eight years (I discovered her at the age of 22). She is now the subject of the final chapter of my thesis, which i am just preparing for submission. My PhD supervisor encouraged me to buy this book for the sake of my thesis, although I was reluctant to buy yet another book (funds are very limited!). After all, I already had the 'Collected Poems' which lists the poems in the order plath wanted at the back of the book; I am familiar with all of them. Furthermore, I have owned and lost no less than three copies of the published 'Ariel' owing to my habit of carrying it about places with me! (Please be assured I am not some suicide-obsessed pseudo-goth.) However, this book is superb. even though I knew the correct order of the poems, reading them like this is a completely different experience. The foreword by Frieda Hughes is extremely touching, showing her troubled loyalty to both parents (Ted Hughes, who of course edited the first publication of Ariel, leaving out about a dozen of the poems that he felt were inflammatory; and including in their place some of her very last, extremely depressed/depressing works that were written shortly before her death) who have for forty years been set one against the other in the popular imagination. The trajectory of the restored text takes you down before taking you up again, famously (as noted by Hughes in his foreword to the 'Collected Poems') beginning with the word 'love' and ending with 'spring'; this being precisely as Plath desired.
Whether or not you feel you wish to add this book to your collection is impossible for me to judge, but I consider this to be an essential bookshelf item, and furthermore ought to be read alongisde the prior version of 'Ariel'.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We finally have Ariel as Sylvia Plath intended it - the poems in the order left in her black ring binder in 1963. This powerful collection should be savoured and treasured more than it is. Additionally, the forward by Freida Hughes is an insightful personal memoir. Worth all the waiting.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had never read this collection the whole way through, but then I saw a documentary on Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath so I decided to by a copy. This edition is a beautifully designed hardback. It is very sad reading these poems with the knowledge of what was to come for Plath, but she is a very powerful and haunting writer. Definitely a poetry collection to put on your to-read list if you haven't read them already.
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Format: Paperback
The opening poem in this collection is one of the most moving and imaginatively powerful celebrations of life ever written, depicticting the joy and hope that lies in the birth of child and setting the tone for the entire collection; a tone that contrasts heavily with the traditional view of Ariel as 'poetry of depression'. Indeed, even in such poems as 'Daddy' and 'Lady Lazarus' there is a certain feeling of elation which an astute reader will no doubt pick up on, and rarely is there any feeling of the author's 'wallowing in misery'.
It is clear from the outset that Plath sets out to present a balanced and almost comprehensive outlook on life; it's ups and its downs, its triumphs and its failures, and, in what is a rather excellent book of poetry (with a few fairly minor flaws) Plath has achieved just that. Though not quite '[a] woman completed', Plath nevertheless produced a collection that is both moving and intriguing.
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Format: Hardcover
'Ariel' is an anthology you'll return to again and again. The wonderful thing about poetry is that it is that it is for everyone. From the transcendental title poem itself (Ariel), through the turbulent and disturbing 'Daddy', to the cutting 'Edge' this anthology consumes you. Deeply personal, yet universally relevent this is Plath at her best, and yet at her worst which is an apposite description of her creative genuis. So often in life in Ted Hughs's shadow, this anthology remains true to the line 'The Woman is Perfected / Her dead body wears the smile of accomplishment' (Edge). The first performance of this poetry engages you, then every time you hear it, it means more, explores more, challenges more. Some criticise Personal Poetry for its lack of 'out-of-context' coherency, however, in this anthology Plath has suceeded in creating a whirlwind of emotion that works without any knowledge of Plath's life; however, the poems come to life the more you learn of her, the images become more horrific, or less horrific... Ariel allows you a small window into Plath's life-long journey towards the EXCITEMENT of death and the beauty and misery of that journey. This is an ameteur psychologist's dream... Buy it!
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Format: Paperback
i'm studying Ariel for my A-level course, and have discovered Plath to be a fabulous poet. of course, she had her problems in life, but these serve to fuel her brilliant and unique poetry. i must admit, some of the poems i find difficult to get into, but others are simply perfect, e.g. Edge, one of her last poems. if you buy one poetry book this year, make it this one!
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Format: Paperback
The best single collection of poetry natively written in the English language, barring "Complete Poems of" collections. So many poets have cited Sylvia Plath as being the poet whose work activated their interest and passion and appreciation for the art form. The power and craftsmanship apparent in this collection, in her original and intended organization, leaves no doubt that Sylvia Plath is one of the all-time greats.
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