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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  23,119 ratings  ·  538 reviews
"In these poems...Sylvia Plath becomes herself, becomes something imaginary, newly, wildly and subtly created."
-- From the Introduction by Robert Lowell
Paperback, 105 pages
Published February 3rd 1999 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published January 1st 1965)
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The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareAriel by Sylvia Plath
Best Poetry Books
5th out of 1,320 books — 1,474 voters
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodA Room of One's Own by Virginia WoolfThe Second Sex by Simone de BeauvoirThe Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Best Feminist Books
55th out of 736 books — 968 voters

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Inspired by Paul Legault's brilliant idea of translating Emily Dickinson's poems into English, I thought immediately - I have to steal that idea. So here are some of the Ariel poems of Sylvia Plath translated into English. I have, of course, tried my utmost to perform this task with tact, discretion and good taste.



Look, let's get this straight. I am a tree, you are a woman. We can never be together, not in the way you'd like, anyway. Plus, you're kind of irritati...more
When I was a kid, I loved stories about intrepid explorers who visited places no one had ever seen before, and died heroically in the attempt. I guess Scott of the Antarctic is the canonical example - though later on, I discovered to my surprise that Norwegians just think he was an idiot who didn't prepare carefully, and that Amundsen was the real hero. There is a wonderful episode in Jan Kjærstad's Erobreren which contrasts the English and Norwegian views of these two great men.

So what's this g...more
Apr 12, 2014 Dolors rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Exotic Birds
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2014
Either disturbed by some haunting, otherworldly presence or simply because of the purring birdsong I awake on the early hours of this winter morning and I grab Sylvia Plath’s collection of poems Ariel, which is calling to me from my bedside table. Still drowsy with soft shades of silky sheets printed on my cheeks my glassy eyes try to focus on stray words that chop like sharpened axes. Streams of unleashed running waters wash over me but fail to cleanse my soul. I am unsettled. Disturbing images...more
It probably won't be right to draw comparisons between the Sylvia Plath who wrote Mad Girl's Love Song during her time at Smith's and the Sylvia Plath of Ariel. There's a world of difference between a Sylvia merely mourning lost love and a bitter, lonesome, vengeful, depressed Sylvia trying to live out the last vestiges of a tumultuous life by seeking a form of catharsis through these poems. And, indeed, a very personal set of poems these are.
It took me a while to get through this book not only...more
Plath astonishes with her grasp on words. What more can I say about her? I've already filled plenty of spaces praising this wondrous woman. Each poem is a breath of fresh air.

'Your handful of notes; / The clear vowels rise like balloons.'

'My bones hold a stillness, the / Fields melt my heart.'

'They threaten / To let me through to a haven / Starless and fatherless, a dark water.'

'A living doll, everywhere you look. / It can sew, it can cook / It can talk, talk, talk.'

'Out of the ash / I rise wi...more

Ariel, Sylvia Plath’s swan song, was first published by her husband Ted Hughes, who removed some poems from her manuscript and added others, composed in her last days, an act that outraged some Plath’s fans, in spite of his explanation that he rearranged the poetry to recreate her life. It was said that by doing that, Hughes changed the spirit of the volume, replacing the optimism suggested by the promise of rebirth in the bees series that closed Plath’s manuscript with the darkness that envelop...more
Basuhi (is back and reading again)
Sylvia Plath has a very singular voice-she might be talking about bloody veins and suicide or envy or simply describing doom in the morning sun but it's picturesque and it affects me in the most indefatigable way, almost subliminally-like the beautiful and fatal thoughts of Esther Greenwood. You need to look closer and dig deeper because underneathe that facade of despair is a more subtle shade of human conscience, designed to be missed. My own favorites were: Ariel, The Moon and the Yew Tree an...more
I am the type seemingly predestined for Plath worship. Oh, it's easy: white, female, feminist, literary, dark-sided. And I've been disavowing my girl Sylvia for a while now, leery of guilt by association. Scandals, hype and armies of ersatz Plaths have watered down public opinion, which is what it is, but life and legend are not the sum of literature. Ariel is baptism by fire. When I read this at thirteen or fourteen it blew up a new space in my mind to make a place where poetry could feel like...more
Ariel is an interesting work of poetry. I find Sylvia Plath's style interesting and she definitely ranks highly among poets yet I found myself caring little for many of the works in Ariel and loving many of the others.

My personal favourites are The Arrival of the Bee Box, Daddy, and Fever 103,. They all best express the factors of Plath's poetry to me which I think is brilliant and also sad. That is the sense of longing, entrapment and desire. A sense which appeared to plague her throughout her...more
i studied this collection senior year of college in my "hand of the poet" seminar. i wrote a 20 page paper on 3 poems from here. i studied plath's handwriting. i analyzed the placement of each poem, and how hughes (sorry to say) kind of screwed everything up in that regard. to me, this is the ultimate. when i think of good poetry, this is the first thing that pops into my head. when i accidently cut my finger chopping up vegetables for dinner, i immediately begin reciting "cut" to myself. these...more
If someone asks me how is it possible to love something you don't (fully) understand, I'd just show them Ariel. It's like looking at a Jackson Pollock's painting, or a Dali's for that matter (since I actually like him better, and though his work is ??? in some cases, it's extraordinary, abstrct enough and open to interpretation. That was Ariel to me while I read it... and no need to say I'm going to read some of her poems here once in a while.)

I'd like to also thank this edition for having the o...more
Lettie Prell
This has happened several times now. Friends or family sitting around after dinner, and people begin reciting their favorite poems, in whole or in part. It's wonderful being around people who love the rhythm of language. I join in with my favorites from Sylvia Plath and, kind of stops things. Stares and silence. Poems about suicide and father hatred can do that I guess. Yet these are the ones stuck in my head, not because I share the sentiments but because the poems are so bold, raw, s...more


Após cada pancada sua a madeira range,
E os ecos!
São ecos que viajam
Do centro para fora como cavalos.

A seiva
Brota como lágrimas, como a
Água a esforçar-se
Por recompor o seu espelho
Sobre a rocha

Que pinga e se transforma,
Uma caveira branca
Comida pelas ervas daninhas.
Anos mais tarde
Encontro-as no caminho -

Palavras secas e indomáveis,
Infatigável som de cascos no chão.
Do fundo do charco estrelas fixas
Governam uma vida.

Sylvia Plath é, certamente, uma das estrelas que brilham...more
Feb 28, 2014 Fewlas rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fewlas by: Regalo di Stela
”I could not run without having to run forever.”


La lingua della Plath crea in queste poesie dei nuovi universi in cui l’amore assume le più disparate forme e si lega ai simboli della luna, dei fiori, del mondo animale, del corpo umano il quale, mediante un sacro processo di transustanziazione, diventa, appunto, oggetto amoroso totalizzante. Una totalità che però annichilisce, perché alle immagini del desiderio d’amore corrisponde sempre quella della morte. Questi due aspetti della...more
This isn’t rocket science. Poetry isn’t written to be read. It’s written to be said. There is nothing like listening to the poet himself but that’s not to say that others can’t do a brilliant job. I can’t imagine McGough being better done than by Mitchell, for example.

Here Rampling held the audience in rapt attention....


This is Sylvia. Purging.

Hushed and frantic and brutal.

Written during the last months of her life…her peak was so so beautiful. Tragic.
This being my second poetry collection by Plath after i read The Colossus i must compare this to that collection which was her debut poetry collection.

The Colossus had some truly brilliant poems but also several uneven, weaker poems. Ariel i can see the maturity of the poems, the author and why its seen as arguably her best poetry collection. It was much more even in the quality of all the poems in the book. The Colossus had more fav poems of mine just because the themes was more universal, dar...more
Disclaimer: poetry’s never really been my thing. Three stars for poetry is five from anyone else.

There were some good ones here, just knife-slicing sharp, escalating and dark. “Lady Lazarus,” for example, is exactly the chilling casualty I was expecting from Plath. But there were some gentle giants here too, which tended to be my favorites: “The Night Dances,” “Letter in November,” “Balloons,” the final graceful “Words.”

It was the opening line, though, that I never got over:
Love set you going l...more
an outstanding collection of poems. don't let her reputation fool you, just because she's every depressed high schooler's favorite poet doesn't mean she's not damn good. Concision, passion, attention to detail, and verbs that will straight up eat you. And what's more, there's an undercurrent of what we think of today as the rhythm of slam poetry in her work, certain poems have that spoken momentum that we associate with slam without all the cheesiness and predictability. read it again, you won't...more
Meriam Kharbat
There are many ways to read these poems. The best way, though not the safest, is to let yourself sink into the deep murky waters offered to you by Sylvia Plath, and allow the darkness to enshroud you.

This is what it felt like to me.

There were many poems which mysteries I couldn't unveil. Nevertheless, the poet's voice, resonated in my head, it spoke to a part of me that I have shoved and buried, years and years ago.

I felt dizzy after finishing this.
Marty :}
“Dying is an art.
Like everything else,
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I have a call.”

Sylvia Plath's writing is very interesting, I fould it strange at first, but I got curious one day because of some reviews and read her history and to be honest, I think it's amazing and shocking how much somebody's life reflects on their work. I feel like I didn't understand many of her poems because they were way too personal for me to s...more
1st draft of review:
To be honest, I was a little nervous when I first grabbed the book from the library. This was Plath’s last book and last poetry in her life, and many of the poems I had grown up with. I wanted to read this book very carefully. I wanted to make sure that nostalgia wouldn’t cloud my review, or the huge fame that surrounds this book. But, thankfully, the more I read, the more those trivial worries faded and I was immersed in Plath. Sometimes the poems lose focus, sometimes they’...more
Poetry. This volume appeals to me on more of an academic level than a personal one. I feel like if I just spent enough time with it, I could figure out Plath's cipher and decode her metaphors. Written in the last two months before her suicide, these poems feel like they're all part of the same machine, like they're building something bigger. There's a lot of repetition, a lot of language being used in similar ways, like you could pull one thread (black, trains, Jews, bees) and watch the pages wr...more
Jul 29, 2010 Cami rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
I'm stepping out alone on this review, it seems. This venue is littered with four and five star reviews for Ariel.

Other than a few poems that truly do shine, I'm going to have to say that I don't think Sylvia Plath was not a consistently good poet.

Poetry gains deeper meaning when we learn more about a poet. When we (think) we understand the place they were in (physically or mentally), we begin to see the symbols and imagery they laid out as something we connect to and this elevates the work in...more

I will admit, at first I judged Plath superficially, assuming her work and life were being blown all out of proportion so as to make a point...

Once I started reading this, though, all that hoopla and hysterics faded quickly, then quicker still...

This is the work of a seriously talented poet- it's so fierce, subtle, lyrical, self-conscious, imbued with tradition but throwing it over wholesale in an effort to achieve a inimitable voice and style and way of seeing the world...

Shattering not onl...more
Este libro me ha acompañado en mis lecturas nocturnas desde hace varios meses. No hay nada que pueda decir yo sobre Sylvia Plath que aporte algo a lo que ya se conoce sobre esta poeta. Creo que es una lectura (de las) que no se termina nunca, un paraje en un bosque (o en una ciudad, o en un país, o en el tiempo) al que siempre volver, una escritura que permanecerá en nuestra memoria, poemas convertidos en cantos para compartir en pequeñas reuniones con amigos o en la soledad de unos ojos soñados...more
"Love set you going like a fat gold watch"

To my mind, Sylvia Plath wins the prize for best first line of a book of poetry. I can always call upon that line and remember what the first line of a poem can be, a call to the rest of the book, as I write.
Nishta Vaishampayan
I really liked this. I read it over and over again really trying to grasp what Ariel is. To me, it seemed like a sort of journey. Obviously, I am not capable of interpreting this kind of complex and dense poem, so I decided to do some research and now the message is clear to me. I won't spoil it though!
It does talk about suicide, of which she committed, and this poem was released 2 years later.

This summer I am trying to be exposed to a lot more poetry so I will be able to practice and improve...more
Frederic  Germay
“Come, if only you had the courage, you could have my rightness, audacity, and ease of inspiration.”

I feel that that’s the appropriate sort of mindset to have when reading this book, which wasn’t a breezy affair by any means. I don’t read a lot of poetry (and am mainly doing so that I can have conversational material with the pretty girl at the bookstore), but Sylvia Plath always draws my eye in this department. She’s dark and piercing, a sort of fierce melancholy - but it isn’t a cry for sympat...more
This is perhaps the most heartrendingly tortured collection of poetry I've ever beheld. At times I had to stop and step away from the piercing doom and gloom that pervaded every poem. This collection was published posthumously and many of the poems were written during Plath's last days, right before her infamous suicide. The poem I listed below, is titled "Edge" many of the things she alludes to such as the pitcher of milk she gave to her children, were part of her suicide the next day.

by S...more
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  • Birthday Letters
  • Transformations
  • The Country Between Us
  • Lunch Poems
  • Diving Into the Wreck
  • Life Studies and For the Union Dead
  • And Her Soul Out Of Nothing
  • The Complete Poems, 1927-1979
  • The Collected Poems
  • Sleeping With the Dictionary
  • The City in Which I Love You
  • The Dream Songs: Poems
  • The Wild Iris
  • The Dead and the Living
Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book's protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a bright, ambitious student at Smith College who begins to experience a mental breakdown while interning for a fashion magazine in New York. The plot paralle...more
More about Sylvia Plath...
The Bell Jar The Collected Poems The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath The Colossus and Other Poems Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose and Diary Excerpts

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11 trivia questions
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“Dying is an art.
Like everything else,
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I have a call.”
“I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
to lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free.”
More quotes…