Times Literary Supplement
"One of the most marvelous volumes of poetry published for a very long time."
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.
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.
Read an Excerpt
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.
I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand.
All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.
One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square
Whitens and swallows its dull stars. Ariel. Copyright © by Sylvia Plath. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
And now you try Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.