Ariel is the second full-length collection of poetry written by Sylvia Plath, published in 1965. The poems in Ariel were largely written in the weeks preceding Plath's infamous death by suicide in 1963 and explore the themes of despair, rebirth, mania, and obsession with death that plagued her throughout her career. Plath's former husband, the British poet Ted Hughes, put together the 1965 selection, including the introduction by Robert Lowell, who had heavily influenced Plath's work.
Ariel was republished in 2004. This new edition returned the selection and arrangement of poems to the order in which Plath had left them. The 2004 edition of Ariel features a foreword by Plath and Hughes’ daughter, Frieda Hughes, who is the sole living member of the family.
Today, Ariel is considered by many to be Plath's finest work, as well as a volume containing some of the finest poems of modern times. It is a brutal look at the precarious mental state that Plath has become known for. The poems are primal, full of the painfully close explorations of anguish and depression that Plath undertook in her final days. With Ariel, Plath became larger-than-life and immortalized her name in the literary world.
The title poem of this collection is 'Ariel'. Alongside poems such as 'Daddy' and 'Lady Lazarus', 'Ariel' is widely regarded as one of Plath's greatest poetic achievements. This energetic poem details Plath's memory of riding her horse Ariel, using speed, rhythm and sound to physically and emotionally immerse the reader in the experience. Beneath the surface of this poem are violent imagery, underlying trauma, a loss of control, and a pervasive desire for death, which makes it a dark and complex read.
The remaining poems in Ariel are not necessarily as powerful as ‘Ariel’ but they still explore Plath’s innermost thoughts and feelings. ‘The Couriers’ is a poem about the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death, while ‘Tulips’ is a poem about being hospitalized and the loneliness of being separated from her family. Other poems such as ‘Poppies in October’ and ‘The Beekeeper’s Daughter’ are also filled with themes of death, depression, and despair.
The collection offers a rare glimpse into the mind of Plath and her innermost thoughts on life and death. It is a powerful, potent read, and a reminder of the intense emotions and struggles that Plath faced during her short life. The poems are full of raw emotion and passion, and it is easy to get lost in their vivid imagery and dark themes.
In addition to the poems in Ariel, the collection also includes a collection of letters that Plath wrote to her mother when she was in college. These letters are a rare insight into the developing mind of Plath and her struggles during that time. They provide an interesting glimpse into the life of Plath and her relationship with her mother, which was often strained due to her mental health issues.
Ariel also includes a selection of Plath’s drawings. These drawings offer a visual representation of her feelings and thoughts and provide a unique insight into her creative process.
Ariel is a powerful collection of poems that offer a glimpse into the mind of the late great Sylvia Plath. It is a collection that is filled with raw emotion, pain, and beauty and it is a must-read for any fan of Plath’s work. With its intense and vivid imagery, Ariel is a collection that will remain timeless and provide generations of readers with an insight into Plath’s life and struggles.