Ariel Paperback – 1 Jan 1968
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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
"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"See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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'.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this edition of Plath's Ariel. Beautifully set out, easy to read and enjoy. Would recommend to aficionados and casual readers alike.Published 14 days ago by abbygail wood
Ariel is beyond beautiful from the outset. The language that Plath employed is deeply meaningful, without being trite. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Joy Isabella
In an egregious example of the pot and the kettle, Julie Burchill, who was my favourite writer until she spiralled into self-parody and endless repetition, said of Annie Lennox... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Tufnell Paul
Ariel is highly regarded by Plath fans, and I can see why – her poetry is vivid and evocative, and I particularly like the way in which her language is simultaneously simple and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by SocialBookshelves.com
This is a book. It contains strings of words that you are supposed to read. The words are all very good ones and the writing is completely clear. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Chriss
Wonderful. Have the collected poems but this is the real PlathPublished 5 months ago by Ronald Ellis