By: Sylvia Plath
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase
The poems in Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, including many of her best-known such as ‘Lady Lazarus’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Edge’ and ‘Paralytic’, were all written between the publication in 1960 of Plath’s first book, The Colossus, and her death in 1963
I’ve read her novel The Bell Jar (review) years ago but oddly enough never got around to her poetry. I was sort of mulling over the poetry section at the bookstore a few weeks ago and decided to finally read some poetry by her. Again, it took a bit of contemplating as I wasn’t sure which collection to start with…some were suggesting new readers start with Colossus, others said Ariel. I decided in the end to go with Ariel as I seem to see it referenced more, and this edition was very pretty 😉
In retrospect, knowing what she was going through and her biography, her poems take on a particular depth, revealing much of the turmoil she was going through, the thoughts of death and discomfort that she was thinking and feeling. Poems about being a woman locked into taking a particular role to poems about her time in the hospital and her depression, these poems are visceral, strange at times, detached at times, but telling. I say strange at times because…it’s hard to explain unless you read quite a bit of poetry but some of the metaphors and illusions she touches on are odd ones, images I never thought of using in a poem. There are certain images that she likes to use over and over, like poppies and bees.
I’m trying to think if there’s a particular poem that was my favourite from this collection…”Daddy” was a haunting one, as was “Sheep in Fog” (some of my favourite lines came from that one), “Tulips” and “The Moon and the Yew Tree.” All in all I really enjoyed reading Sylvia Plath’s Ariel and am keen to pick up her other collected poems at some point.