Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Ariel

Rate this book
Ariel was the second book of Sylvia Plath's poetry to be published, and was originally published in 1965, two years after her death by suicide. The poems in Ariel, with their free flowing images and characteristically menacing psychic landscapes, marked a dramatic turn from Plath's earlier Colossus poems.

86 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1965

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Sylvia Plath

228 books19.1k followers
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 parallels Plath's experience interning at Mademoiselle magazine and subsequent mental breakdown and suicide attempt.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
33,924 (47%)
4 stars
23,073 (32%)
3 stars
10,259 (14%)
2 stars
2,489 (3%)
1 star
1,428 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,327 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,162 reviews9,031 followers
November 12, 2012
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.

ARIEL TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH

ELM.

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 irritating.

THE RABBIT CATCHER

I went out with this guy once and then I found out he liked to catch rabbits. So he was toast. I should have dimed the bastard.

BERCK-PLAGE

I went on holiday. Every single person in the whole hotel was talking about me behind my back. I don't like bikinis. Don't even get me started on nude beaches.

THE OTHER

I have something dead in my handbag. Tee hee. Also, I scratched myself and made myself bleed. I don't really recommend marriage.

A BIRTHDAY PRESENT

I got a present. But I was thinking that if I unwrapped it, it would bite my face off. So I didn't. Hah.

THE BEE MEETING

I thought I'd like to join in village life and get involved with local societies and all that. So I went to the bee keepers' meeting. It was like something out of Alfred Hitchcock. I liked it.

STINGS

Now I'm a real bee keeper. I get blase about stings. It's like a metaphor.

THE SWARM

Bees are kind of like Nazis. Or the French. I can't decide.

WINTERING

Country life can suck. I wish I was a bee. No, I don't really. That would be silly. I think it would be silly. Maybe it wouldn't be silly.

A SECRET

Men are like big babies that drink beer and want you to wear high class lingerie. Okay, that's not much of a secret.

THE APPLICANT

I got this job as a temp. So I was filing and I knew I could destroy them if I chose, just like that, but I didn't choose to that day.

DADDY

When I was little and my dad used to dress up in his SS uniform I used to think he looked so smart and handsome. Of course, later, the penny dropped.

LESBOS

You really shouldn't have taken the kittens and given them to the neighbours without a by-your-leave. I think I am going to pour sulphuric acid on your head while you are sleeping. I'll do it tonight. Yes.

FEVER 103

I got one of those 48 hour bugs. That's why he's still alive. If I had any strength in my limbs I would have sulphuric-acided his head last night.

CUT

I nearly cut my fucking thumb off when I was making a casserole for a man. I jumped about swearing. I could have cut off something useful, like his member, but no, it had to be my thumb.

POPPIES IN OCTOBER

Have you noticed that everything is slowly dying of carbon-monoxide poisoning?

LADY LAZARUS

I like to commit suicide like some people like to visit their grandparents. You really don't want to, it's kind of a drag and there's nothing to do there, but you just feel you have to because you're a good person.

LETTER IN NOVEMBER

Dear Ted - Fuck you - Sylvia

DEATH & CO

Cheer up, things could be worse, I could be dead. Oh no, wait a minute - this is worse, that would be better. Hmm.

SHEEP IN FOG

Well, you know sheep aren't that bright to begin with. So when you mix 'em up with a thick fog, the results are hilarious.







Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.5k followers
October 12, 2021
Ariel, Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer.

She is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and is best known for two of her published collections The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel, as well as The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death.

In 1981 The Collected Poems were published, including many previously unpublished works.

Ariel was the second book of Sylvia Plath's poetry to be published. It was originally published in 1965, two years after her death by suicide.

The poems in the 1965 edition of Ariel, with their free flowing images and characteristically menacing psychic landscapes, marked a dramatic turn from Plath's earlier Colossus poems.

Contents (1965 version):
Morning Song,
The Couriers,
Sheep in Fog,
The Applicant,
Lady Lazarus,
Tulips.
Cut,
Elm,
The Night Dances,
Poppies in October,
Berck-Plage,
Ariel,
Death & Co.,
Lesbos,
Nick and the Candlestick,
Gulliver,
Getting There,
Medusa,
The Moon and the Yew Tree,
A Birthday Present,
Mary's Song,
Letter in November,
The Rival,
Daddy,
You're,
Fever 103°,
The Bee Meeting,
The Arrival of the Bee Box,
Stings,
The Swarm,
Wintering,
The Hanging Man,
Little Fugue,
Years,
The Munich Mannequins,
Totem,
Paralytic,
Balloons,
Poppies in July,
Kindness,
Contusion,
Edge,
and Words.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: در ماه جولای سال 2000میلادی

عنوان: آریل؛ شاعر: سیلویا پلات؛ مترجم: کاوه بهزادی؛ موضوع مجموعه شعر از شاعران ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

سیلویا پلات، شاعریست که نیاز به معرفی ندارند؛ همانگونه که میدانید به سال 1932میلادی، در ایالت «ماساچوست ِ آمریکا» به دنیا آمدند، و در سال 1963میلادی، در جوانی و اوج، دستان خویش از این جهان شستند؛ از ایشان، کتابهای ِ «آریل»؛ «کتاب ِ بستر»؛ «کلوسوس» «چند شعر ِ دیگر»؛ «درختان ِ زمستانی»؛ «گذر از آب» و…؛ و نیز یک رمان با عنوان: «حباب ِ شیشه» بر جای مانده است

یک هدیه برای تولد

چه چیز است در پس ِ این حجاب؟
آیا زشت است؟ آیا زیباست؟
سوسو میزند
روشن و خاموش میشود
آیا سینه دارد؟ آیا کنار دارد؟
یقین دارم که بی همتاست
یقین دارم همان چیزیست که میخواهم
وقتی که خاموشم در پخت و پز
احساس میکنم نگاه میکند
احساس میکنم فکر میکند
آیا همان چیزیست که مرا بیش از اندازه آماده کرده؟
آیا همان برگزیده است با چشم-حفره های سیاه
که جای زخم بر آن مانده؟
اندازه میگیرد انبوه ِ آرد را و تکه میکند اضافه اش را
در حال ِ چسبیدن به دستورات
دستورات
دستورات

آیا همان است که مسیح را در مریم بشارت داد؟
خدای ِ من، چه مسخره!؛
اما سوسو میزند
روشن و خاموش میشود
صبر نمیکند
و فکر میکنم که مرا میخواهد
چه فرق میکند؟
استخوان باشد یا دکمه ای از مروارید!؛
به هر حال من امسال چیز زیادی از یک هدیه نمیخواهم
چرا که فکر میکنم به تصادفی زنده ام
چرا که شادمان، خودم را به هر طریق ِ ممکن کشته بودم
حالا این حجابها هستند که مانند ِ پرده سوسو میزنند
روشناییهای اطلسی ِ یک پنجره ی زمستانی
سپید، مثل تختخواب ِ کودکان
و برق از نفّس ِ مرده به رنگ دندان ِ فیل
باید یک دندان ِ تیز آنجا باشد,ستونی از اشباح!؛
نمیتوانید ببینید؟ برایم مهم نیست که چیست
آیا تو میتوانی آنرا به من ندهی؟!؛
خجل نباش، مهم نیست اگر کوچک باشد
بخیل نباش، من برای ِ عظمت آماده ام
بگذارید بنشینیم؛
هر یک در سمتی از آن
در شگفت از نورانی بودنش، در شگفت از آینه وار بودنش
بگذارید آخرین شاممان را بر آن بخوریم
آنچنان که بر یک بشقاب در بیمارستان
میدانم که چرا به من نمیدهیش؟
تو وحشت کرده ای
حالا که جهان از جیغی بالا میرود به همراه سرت بی آنکه پروایی داشته باشی
به شکل ِ یک سپر ِ باستانی
اعجازی برای ِ نوادگان ِ شما
اما نترسید، این چنین نیست
من تنها میگیرمش و به کناری میگریزم
و تو نه صدای ِ باز کردنش
نه صدای ِ گسستن ِ زبانش
و نه صدای ِ جیغی در انتها خواهی شنید
فکر نمیکنم امتیازی به این احتیاطم بدهی
آه اگر میدانستی چگونه این حجابها روزهای مرا میکشند
در نگاه ِ تو آنها خود وضوح و شفافیتند، به شکل ِ هوایی تمیز
اما خدای من! ابرها این روزها به سان ِ پنبه شده اند
ارتشی از آنها…………..ارتشی از مونوکسید ِ کربن
به شیرینی، مانند ِ شکر به درون نفس میکشم
و رگهایم را از میلیونها پنهانی پر میکنم
غبارهای ِ غریبی که بر سالهای ِ عمرم خط میکشند
تو لباسهای نقره ایَت را برای این مناسبت بپوش
آیا برایتان غیرممکن است چیزی را رها کنید برود؟
آیا باید به هر چیزی مُهری ارغوانی بزنید؟
آیا باید هر چه را که توانید بکُشید؟
آه، من امروز چیزی میخواهم و تو تنها کسی هستی که میتوانی آنرا به من دهی
چیزی که پس پنجره ام ایستاده است، به عظمت ِ آسمان
چیزی که میان ِ اوراقم نَفَس میکشد
آن مرکز ِ مرده را میگویم
آنجا که زندگیهای ِ شکاف خورده سرد و سخت به تاریخ گره میخورند
نگذار با نامه بیاید، از انگشتی به انگشت ِ دیگر
نگذار با کلمه ای از دهان برسد
آه، من باید شصت ساله باشم
تا زمانی که این همه تحویل داده شود
تا خالی از هر احساسی شوم
تا از آن استفاده کنم
تنها بگذار از این نقاب پایین بیایم
از این حجاب، حجاب، حجاب
اگر این مرگ میبود
من سنگینی ِ عمیقش را و چشمان ِ بی انتهایش را تحسین میکردم
آنوقت میدانستم تو جدی بودی
سپس میتوانست اصالتی
سپس میتوانست تولدی در کار باشد
و چاقو، نه برای ِ تکه کردن، که برای ِ درون شدن میبود
ژاو و پاکیزه، به شکل ِ گریه ی یک کودک
و جهان از کنار ِ من سرازیر میشد.؛

آینه
نقره ام، دقیقم، بی هیچ نقش پیشین
هرچه میبینم بی درنگ میبلعم
همانگونه که هست، نیالوده به عشق یا نفرت
بی رحم نیستم، فقط راستگو هستم
چشمان خدایی کوچک، چهار گوشه
اغلب به دیوار رو به رو میاندیشم
صورتی ست و لکه دار
آنقدر به آن نگاه کرده ام که فکر میکنم
پاره ی دل من است
ولی پیدا و ناپیدا میشود
صورتها و تاریکی بارها ما را از هم جدا میکنند

حالا دریاچه ام
زنی روبرویم خم شده است
برای شناختن خود سرا پای مرا میکاود
آنگاه به شمعها یا ماه، این دروغگویان، باز میگردد
پشت او را میبینم و همانگونه که هست منعکس میکنم
زن با اشک و تکان دادن دست پاداشم میدهد
برای او اهمیت دارم، میآید و میرود
این صورت اوست که هر صبح جانشین تاریکی میشود
در من دختری را غرق کرده است
و در من زنی سالخورده هر روز به جستجوی او
مثل ماهی هولناکی برمیخیزد

در پیشگفتار «آریل» اثر: «سیلویا پلات»، که دو سال پیش از خودکشی شاعر، در «لندن» چاپ شد، «رابرت لاول» شاعر «آمریکایی» نگاشته ائد: «در این اشعار، پلات با خودش یکی میشود، خویشتنی که با طراوت، ظرافت و شقاوت آفریده شد»؛ یکی از آن قهرمان اَبَرواقعی و سحرآمیزِ بزرگ کلاسیک؛ «لاول» راست میگویند که «پلات» در شعرهای آخرش با خود یکی میشود؛ بویژه در اشعار دفاتر «گذر از آب» و «آریل» که خودی یکدست، اما مشترک را به وجود میآورد؛ در این مجموعه به ویژه در دفتر اخیر، تجربه های روزمره را با اکسیر اسطوره به احساس و اشتراک عام مبدل میکند؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 24/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 19/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 28 books13.4k followers
September 17, 2009
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 got to do with Ariel? I was trying to figure out why I like it so much (it's been one of my absolute favorite pieces of poetry since I first came across it as a teenager), and it struck me that maybe I admired it for similar reasons. Sylvia Plath went on an expedition to a sort of emotional Antarctica, a place most people have heard of but never visited, where you experience love so intensely that it ends up killing you. Before that happened, however, she managed to send back detailed reports of what she'd found there. Perhaps another reason why I associate her and the brave Captain Scott is that she died during the English winter of 1963. I was five at the time, and some of my first memories are of the bitter cold, and of how incredibly deep the snow was. I remember that we were snowed in, and that my father shovelled a path to the house next door, so that we could at least visit them. The snow was much higher than his head. A few hundred miles away, Sylvia had left her husband, and was living in London with her two children. She killed herself on February 11.

Here are some of the passages from Ariel that I think of most often. I have always assumed that the title poem is about having sex with Ted Hughes, though I found out recently that it's also about her horse. It ends like this:
...White
Godiva, I unpeel -
Dead hands, dead stringencies.

And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child's cry

Melts in the wall.
And I
Am the arrow,

The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red

Eye, the cauldron of morning.
The beginning of Elm is another of my favourite passages, which expresses better than anything else I can think of just how painful love can be. I remember once showing it to a friend who's had a rather difficult life (we'd been having some discussion about poetry). She seemed almost physically affected; I remember she turned pale, and couldn't finish reading it. I wished I'd had more sense:
I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root:
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.

Is it the sea you hear in me,
Its dissatisfactions?
Or the voice of nothing, that was your madness?

Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it
Listen: these are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.

All night I shall gallop thus, impetuously,
Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf,
Echoing, echoing...
And I love the end of Nick and the Candlestick, which she apparently wrote to her son, two years old at the time:
O embryo

Remembering, even in sleep,
Your crossed position.
The blood blooms clean

In you, ruby.
The pain
You wake to is not yours.

Love, love,
I have hung our cave with roses,
With soft rugs--

The last of Victoriana.
Let the stars
Plummet to their dark address,

Let the mercuric
Atoms that cripple drip
Into the terrible well,

You are the one
Solid the spaces lean on, envious.
You are the baby in the barn.
I was so shocked when I read earlier this year that he had also killed himself. But when someone's written a poem like this about you, you're as immortal as the unnamed subject of Shakespeare's Sonnet XVIII.

By the way, most people have been very dismissive of the movie with Gwynneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig. I seem to be one of the rare exceptions; the script was nothing special, but I thought Paltrow had done a fine job of capturing her personality on screen.




Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,752 reviews637 followers
November 1, 2022
Haunting and honest - a scalpel that cuts so deep and quick you don't even feel it. The first time I read Ariel I was amazed by the depth and honesty of the poems; there is no 'slight of hand' here - only the raw and honest feelings of an artist dealing with life and the cumulative toll life takes on us all. Will be one of the few books I continue to read through my life.
Profile Image for ana.
82 reviews54 followers
July 27, 2021
rip sylvia plath i know you would've loved phoebe bridgers
Profile Image for Dolors.
516 reviews2,141 followers
April 12, 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 flood the still pond of my mind, I feel faint visualizing drops of blood soaking weaved carpets of fluffy snowflakes drawing impossibly flowery forms on shimmering innocence, red tulips opening their moist petals aroused by treacherous dew at dawn, warmth bitterly frozen in morbid colors.
Sylvia’s brushstrokes combine the diluted shades of Manet with the impressionist aggressiveness and stunning tones of Pollock. Vulnerability and firm willpower are both present in form and content in this collection of poems. I encounter unapologetic Sylvia in her Lady Lazarus bewitching me with her defiant assertion:

Dying
Is an art,
like everything else.

I do it exceptionally well.”


And I force myself not to think of her tragic suicide and her mental condition when she wrote these verses. I choose to concentrate on the writer, on the genius, on the creativity which enables suffering to become universal works of art that offer comfort and redemption, on the flowing current of feeling rather than on the scabrous speculations hiding behind Sylvia’s supposed products of madness. Truth is I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsought, some things need to be sensed rather than known, so I decide to surrender to Sylvia’s acidic voice and let the walls of this cage dissolve away and for the briefest of moments, I taste the undistinguishable flavor of exhilarating freedom.
Let the poems speak for themselves. They probe unfalteringly with sardonic disdain, they delve deep in scavenger spirit, pecking unmercifully at their own creator’s flesh, they are abrupt, sarcastic, even deceitful. Sylvia’s virulent words become everlasting vessels, carriers of existential vision, ships of meaning that will perpetually sail the wintry dark waters of countless readers breaking through their foggy minds and dormant hearts.
I thirstily swallow these 43 naked poems trying not to choke on their rawness and I unexpectedly find myself dragged by the powerful force of this kaleidoscopic river of white pure waters, red sensual nooks and black nihilist crannies. I am lost in this world of barren landscapes and atrocious celestial bodies, of endless inner wars and abandoned children and abused fathers. But I don’t want to be found.

“O God, I am not like you
In your vacuous black,
Stars stuck all over, bright stupid confetti.
Eternity bores me,
I never wanted it.”

Years

Sylvia’s use of colloquial language and her disdainful tone puncture the balloon of comfort and challenge the reader, her assonant and imperfect rhymes structured in free verse blend with myth and natural imagery creating a surreal and hypnotic hum that soothes and strikes back like a cobra, drawing honest blood and recognition.

“Who do you think you are?
A Communion wafer? Blubbery Mary?
I shall take no bite of your body,
Bottle in which I live,

Ghastly Vatican.
I am sick to death of hot salt.
Green as eunuchs, your wishes
Hiss at my sins.
Off, off, eely tentacle!

There is nothing between us.”

Medusa

Sylvia’s choice of words and expressions pungently resonate in this age of gender conflict, broken families and economic inequalities, the bottled rage that derives from continuous betrayal and disappointment can be softened through Plath’s bitter yet courageous individuality.
Some exotic birds aren’t meant to be caged. It would be a sin not to allow their colorful feathers to be spread and fly away. Sylvia escaped from a colorless world to soar the skies of eternity, tingeing them with burning bright celestial pathways that enlighten the firmament of those who, from time to time, dare to look up to the floors of heaven and allow themselves to be consumed by the flames of blazing and immortal art.

“ It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.

It is the sea you hear in me,
Its dissatisfactions?
Or the voice of nothing, that was your madness?

Love is a shadow.”

Elm

Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
903 reviews13.7k followers
April 22, 2017
I'm wanting to get into more poetry, but I have to classify books of poetry in two categories: poems I understood, and poems I didn't. The majority of these poems went over my head.

I saw in a previous review that Plath writes very personally, which I suppose is what went wrong here. There were so many abstract references and just being plain honest, 80% of these poems I just had no clue what she was trying to communicate, other than the fact that she wanted to die.
Although I didn't grasp most of the poems in this collection, I did really enjoy a few: Sheep in the Fog, Lady Lazarus, Tulips, and The Rival.

I was a much bigger fan of The Bell Jar than I am her poetry.
Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews388 followers
October 2, 2017
What do I think? I honestly don't know. My favorite poems were Elm, The Moon and the Yew Tree, and Edge. I admit that Sylvia Plath's poetry may be beyond my ability to fullly understand. I have The Collected Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982, on my to-read shelf. Maybe the more I read the better I will understand. There is an aura about Sylvia Plath that I find fascinating. Her writing is so unique, so different from anything else, you can't help being drawn to it, like a moth to a flame.
Profile Image for Steven Godin.
2,282 reviews2,151 followers
August 6, 2016
Stunned.

Destroyed.

Took the wind out of my sails,

and the light out of my eyes.

Not wanting to curse but fuck me! could she write!

As for "Daddy" what heart crushing despair.
Profile Image for Tara.
347 reviews19 followers
August 10, 2018
“Cold glass, how you insert yourself
Between myself and myself.
I scratch like a cat.”

These poems are jagged, visceral, and very, very raw. They’re angry and bruised, “extravagant, like torture.” And they are frequently charged with a dark, mirthless laughter. After all, “there is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.” Or so Camus once said.

As a total poetry novice, I might be way off base with some of my impressions—I didn’t even come close to understanding everything I read. But I do know that she shared some of her deepest, most intense feelings with me. She made me absorb them. She forced me to feel them too. Plath’s depression had claws.

“There is the sunlight, playing its blades,
Bored hoodlum in a red room.”

You know, her own dangerous radiance felt somehow similar...
Profile Image for Asghar Abbas.
Author 1 book191 followers
June 8, 2021

I picked this up last night, wanting to read just one poem, The Moon and the Yew Tree specifically, but I ended up reading all of them, the entire book. I won't pretend to understand what most of her poems were about, but they left me in goosebumps and ashiver. I enjoyed them.

What a mind, what a mind. Utterly glorious. Bane of her existence and yet because of its blackness, she still exists today.

Sublime work.

I wish she had written more novels too. Her poetic prose and timings are undeniable.

Read it.

Addendum: as I was reading this it dawned on me her poems are undeniably Gothic, weird this didn't occur to me before.

Her every poem makes me suck in my breath. It is hardly breaking news that she was a good poet but such terrific words, I don't even want to imagine the insides of her terrible terrible mind.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,357 reviews2,288 followers
June 15, 2020
So, no-one needs another review of Plath's raging, bitter, vengeful poems that batter us with image after startling, shattering image: the scarlet bloom of blood, claustrophobia and airlessness, the dissolution of the female body and voice, balanced by transcendental moments of renewal and rebirth.

But it's worth saying that this edition is based on the 1965 version 'edited' by Ted Hughes which took out poems which he considered too aggressive (presumably towards him?), and which reordered the poems from Plath's manuscript. (Collected Poems gives Plath's own order on p.295.)

Leaving aside all the well-rehearsed arguments about his appropriations and muting of her voice, the effect of Hughes' possibly self-interested reordering and re-selection means that 'his' Ariel ends on a note of annihilation, the 'her dead body' of 'Edge', the penultimate poem, and 'words dry and riderless' of the final 'Words'. It makes Plath's suicide teleological.

Her own selection and ordering was, arguably, less bleak - she ends with the Bee poems ('The Bee Meeting', 'The Arrival of the Bee Box', 'Stings', 'The Swarm' which Hughes excluded altogether and 'Wintering') and the final lines of her edition speak to at least the hope of some kind of renewal:

Will the hive survive, will the gladiolas
Succeed in banking their fires
To enter another year?
What will they taste of, the Christmas roses?
The bees are flying. They taste the spring.
Profile Image for 7jane.
671 reviews251 followers
May 2, 2018
A collection released two years after her death, written in a grand burst of creativity just before death... I had to get this mainly because of the cover, but I can say that though I have the 'all poems' book, having this separately was worth it.

...And I a smiling woman
I am only thirty.
And like that cat I have nine times to die.
..
(from "Lady Lazarus")

There are so many themes I could get from here: colors (red, white, black, etc.), moods (uncertainty, calm, quiet joy, being distant), and subjects (motherhood, marriage expectations, mornings, the "still alive" after another suicide attempt, feverishness, something that reads like a nightmare, death-waiting, a solitary autumn walk, children with balloons...), and nature (bees, flowers, moon, night, sheep, trees..)

Some poems were difficult to open, difficult to find their meaning, but that just means repeated readings might open them.
But the best poem here is the very intense RAEG of "Daddy", that feels like your head knocking against some sudden hard surface, the language dancing on repeat around certain words, finally ending in what feeling like a shout mixed with rage-and-triumphant-joy - it is a jumping point with an exclamation mark!
(There's even a small echo of it in "Little Fugue", I feel.)

This does have a slight feel of 'last collection ever', even if not so intended. But it feels honest, and like her. I don't see myself wanting to interpret each poem here (though the themes above might be a little), but the moods seem so clear even in the poems I can't open yet. This is a quick read, yet at the same time not, since I feel rereads are ahead. Yet for a last collection, it feel like a perfect collection.
Profile Image for Samadrita.
295 reviews4,466 followers
February 15, 2013
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 because you cannot breeze through poetry as if it were a piece of fiction. But because my obsession with Daddy, Lady Lazarus and The Applicant got in the way of my progress with the remaining poems.
I think I have read the 3 at least 20 times each since the day I picked up Ariel.
Merely trying to imagine the ways, in which this lady could have further overwhelmed the literary world had she lived a full life, gives me goosebumps.
Who would have thought that cutting your thumb on a chopping board could transform into exquisite poetry?

A million stars.
Profile Image for GTF.
76 reviews93 followers
January 29, 2023
A groundbreaking collection of poetry that showcases Plath's awe-inspiring expression and imagination. Although dark in subject matter, Plath does not repel the reader's interest, but rather appeals to the morbid curiosity by using vivid imagery, with words and sentences arranged melodically. It is easy to see why 'Ariel' became one of the most popular and talked about poetry collections of the twentieth century.
Profile Image for Henk.
796 reviews
August 2, 2020
You feel like you are dropped in a slightly macabre, uncaring countryside as reader of Ariel
People or stars
regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

Sheep in Fog

Cold and heavy scenes from the countryside
I could not run without having to run forever
The Bee Meeting

The sadness of being a mother in Morning Song, the darkness of mental illness and the Holocaust in Lady Lazarus.
Lesbos on being trapped in szyzophrenia and who you could be, if you would not be held back by baby crap.
A Birthday Present shows the fragility of mental health, with the risk of losing it as invisible veils and the only wish being hale for one day as a birthday present remaining.
It’s heavy stuff Sylvia Plath takes on in this bundle and despite its small size I could not finish it easily.

The cold of nature seems to be a main theme, and it is surprising how little people come back in Ariel, besides a scathing poem about her Prussian father. Winter seems the perfect season for this bundle’s tone, despite a few poems about bees.

This is poetry to carefully read and which chilled me even though I largely took it to me during a heatwave on a train to Versailles.
The language is sometimes very beautiful but didn’t touch the hart for me in a way that The Bell Jar did:

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

Lady Lazarus

I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.

Elm

You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.

The Rival
Profile Image for G.
413 reviews117 followers
May 8, 2021
"I am the arrow, the dew that flies suicidal"
“I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.”

“And I a smiling woman. I am only thirty. And like the cat I have nine times to die.”

Sylvia Path's poetry is truly remarkable and must be read by all, considering her tragic life!
Profile Image for Susan Budd.
Author 6 books204 followers
June 17, 2021
This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God,
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility.


In “The Moon and the Yew Tree” Sylvia Plath presents, not a vision of the picturesque English churchyard outside her bedroom window, but a mental landscape with more melancholy, more solemnity, more Gothic gloom than any representation of physical reality could ever have.

It is a scene of austere resignation to destiny. Nothing mitigates the blackness. Terror is kept at bay only by a fatalistic acceptance of the merciless moon’s indifference to human suffering. Plath looks out of her window and knows she is home. “I live here,” she says without emotion.

But Plath would have it otherwise if she could. She would like to believe in tenderness.

The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness—
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.


Before “Lady Lazarus,” before “Edge,” there was “The Moon and the Yew Tree.” I like to read the three poems as a group. Together they tell a story of despair, anger, and bitter defiance.

Written less than sixteen months before her death, “The Moon and the Yew Tree” establishes a mood, an ambiance, that fades into the background with “Lady Lazarus” and then returns to the fore in the last lines of “Edge.” Plath has not yet adopted the bravado of “Lady Lazarus” here, but it is easy to see the progression from the deliberate matter-of-fact voice in this cold dark poem to the proud death-defying persona of the later poem.

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it
—”

Then there is the moon imagery and the aura of inevitability. “I simply cannot see where there is to get to.” The line, uttered with deadpan acumen, foreshadows the decree of finality in “Edge,” her final poem. “Her bare/Feet seem to be saying:/We have come so far, it is over.” The bare feet that prophesy this end are the feet of the girl who walks through the moonlit landscape like God.

Plath’s emphasis is everywhere on rebirth: the moon, Lazarus, the phoenix. Do you want to know what it feels like to come back from the dead? Do you really want to know? The challenge is offered and it must not be accepted lightly, for it is a dark vision.

It is easy for casual observers to dismiss her, to take refuge in ignorance and to feign contempt so that they can deny their own demons. Who would walk through Plath’s landscape with its cold blue light, its black trees, its bats, owls, and headstones, who would gaze at the yew tree and follow its line, up, up to the remote unfeeling moon, must be made of harder stuff than the common run of men and women are made of.

Plath stares her observers down. She smirks in the faces of her detractors. And she boasts in a loud clear voice, a voice clear as a bell—or a bell jar. Plath is no penitent. Her confession is revelation, not repentance.

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’ve a call.


She is never contrite. On the contrary, her attitude toward suicide is cavalier. “Lady Lazarus” is a haughty poem. She tells it like it is, sugar-coating nothing. She refuses to restrain her rage or soften her voice. Let those who would scorn her, scorn her, but first let them shudder at the violence of her imagery. Let them wince and recoil as she looks them dead in the eyes and says: “They had to call and call/And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Plath makes no apologies.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot—
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies.


It is the vulgar spectators, their flaccid mouths agape, their vacuous eyes agog, that so offend. Plath does not cast her gaze earthward and dig her toe around in the dirt, stammering out the obligatory and obsequious phrases that appease the peanut-crunching crowd. She does not hide her face from the gibbering mob, from those whose mockery conceals their own fear, whose insults spring from the senseless cruelty of their puerile and unenlightened minds.

Reading “Lady Lazarus,” I hear Plath’s saucy voice above the bleating of the herd. If they want to look, let them look. Let them look and gape and drool.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.


The trick is not to mind the voyeurs, to welcome them, to put on a good show. Instead of tenderness there is always brute amusement. She does not keep her secret nestled to her bosom, protected and sheltered, for the audience would have it out and, not content to take a brief and humble look and then pass on, each man, woman, and child would feel compelled to gawk and jeer and perhaps poke at it with a stick.

Better to put it on display herself, hang a sign, charge admission. Better to hold her head high and thrust out her chest, work the crowd, be barker and freak in one, expose her scars to all and sundry. And why stop there? Let them come a little closer and smell the smell of death that still clings to her garments. It is good to remember that it is they who are terrified.

There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart—
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.


She will exhume the past, but before she does she would like to talk price. There is a charge, after all. It is betrayal that hurts the most, not the scrutiny of the multitude. Looking out into the audience, there is only a sea of interchangeable faces. They are of no consequence. It is the betrayal of a loved and trusted one that crushes. To believe in one, to have faith in one—just one, is to risk all.

I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern


I think there is a sordid fascination people have with other people’s suicides. Plath knew this when she wrote “Lady Lazarus.” In order to probe ever deeper into the private world of the suicidal mind they affect concern. Candor is not for these frauds. Melodrama, sensationalism, the shocking lurid details are enough for the curious. It is all they really want anyway. True candor, the guided tour and backstage pass are for the select few, the one, possibly for none at all.

Plath’s poetry is triumphant. It is her victory over death and over the scavengers who feed upon it. And it is an invitation to all of us to face the past with courage and dignity and even a little bit of arrogance.
Profile Image for Renee Godding.
571 reviews546 followers
September 14, 2020
"I know the bottom, she says. I know it
with my great tap root:
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there..."


5/5 stars

Sylvia Plath has been, and probably always will be, a poet whom words hits me harder than many others’ ever will. Many of the poems in this collection are very familiar to me: I’ve shed tears over them, adored them, resented them, analyzed them to death and absorbed their every message in my heart over the course of years now. However, this was my first time reading this collection as a whole, as opposed to fragmented pieces over time.
My experience with the entire collection was simultaneously very familiar and yet a little different. I got to revisit some of my old favorites, which still haven’t lost their magic over me. I’d love to explain why I love each and every one of them, and what they mean to me, however, I’m choosing to only mention some of them briefly. Most poetry is best experienced “blind” yourself, and if you are interested in reading some analyses, there are many out there that do a way better job than I ever could. If you want me to, I’d much rather direct any of you who are interested there, than do a butch-job

Some of my favorites included in this collection are:

- Lady Lazarus (possibly Plath’s most famous poem, and one of my all-time favorites)
- The Moon and the Yew-tree (again: one of my all-time favorite poems)
- Elm
- Daddy
- Paralytic
- Edge (most likely the last poem Plath ever wrote before her death)

All of these are amazing poems by themselves, but reading the collection as a whole did in a way help me understand a bit more about Sylvia Plath as a person, which helps you understand her work better. Although the collection isn’t organized chronologically, I couldn’t help but paint a picture of some of her major life events whilst reading, which added an extra layer to her work.

Would I recommend it?
Absolutely and whole heartedly… Not just to anyone interested in poetry, but to anyone interested in these topics as well.

I’m fairly sure I don’t have to explain what these topics are, but just in case you aren’t familiar with Plaths work: Please, decide for yourself if you’re comfortable reading about these topics at the current place you may be in.
Profile Image for leah.
255 reviews1,774 followers
October 1, 2021
i know it’s ‘basic’ to love sylvia plath, but sorry, i just do. lady lazarus may be one of my favourite poems of all time.
Profile Image for Jess.
382 reviews233 followers
January 27, 2021
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.


Bitter, brutal, intelligent and moving.

There is often a temptation to detect fanciful references that prefigure Plath’s suicide by asphyxiation (God knows, there’s enough mention of ‘carbon monoxide’), but to do so unfairly distils Ariel into autobiographical poetry. I prefer to read this as testament to Plath’s wonderfully morbid curiosity.

It’s a problematic collection on a number of levels; racial slurs are used fast and loose and on more than one occasion, Plath makes an audacious claim of solidarity with the Jews of the Holocaust. Whilst her imagery and word choice are stunningly original, I could not help but find some strains and devices a little repetitive, namely triadic repetitions e.g. 'wars, wars, wars'.

Daddy remains a personal resonant favourite of mine. It’s such a profane diatribe and a powerful exercise in rhetoric besides. The tone is far too abrasive to dismiss the speaker entirely as a fictional persona, especially as she conducts her attempted exorcism of her father’s spectral image; her lack of coherent self and accusations of how ‘daddy’ informed her attitudes towards men is startlingly direct. That hauntingly ambiguous ending, that blasphemous final line – ‘Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through’- is perhaps one of the most perfect lines in all of Poetry. The double meaning is just so tantalising. She’s not ‘free’, she’s ‘through’. Has she achieved her catharsis? Or has her performance ended – and by extension, she is conterminous with it…?

Wonderful.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,037 reviews348 followers
June 12, 2018
This was very up and down. A lot of the poems went right over my head, but a few I enjoyed, including Lady Lazarus, The Rival and The Moon and the Yew Tree. Of them all, I think Lady Lazarus had the most ‘pull’ in that it’s quite deeply emotive in its portrayal of wanting to be dead and the mixture of emotions that comes with this. It was very personal, and there’s no doubt Sylvia Plath has a way with words. For that poem alone, I pulled this up to three stars.

I’m just not sure that for the most part, Plath’s words are my kind of words. I’m not a big poem fan, and felt next to no connection with any of the other poems. In particular, I think I struggle with writing that’s far removed from the literal. Metaphors, similes, they all make me glaze over a bit and these poems are rife with them. Many around the subject of dying and death (understandable given Plath’s history).

I really need to find me some poems that are more straight-to-the-point and less fiddly.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,645 reviews434 followers
February 15, 2015
The restored edition of Ariel is the group of poems that Sylvia Plath left as a manuscript at the time of her death by suicide in 1963. The originally published Ariel was edited by her former husband, Ted Hughes, who substituted some of her other poems written in the last months of her life. The forward by their daughter, Frieda Hughes, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each grouping of poems, trying to be fair to each parent.

The poems in Ariel are brilliant and powerful, but often sad, since they were written at a devastating time in Plath's life. Plath had suffered from depression for years, but she was at her lowest point after her husband became involved with another woman, and her marriage dissolved. Plath had some near-death experiences in her life--an accidental near-drowning at age 10 and a suicide attempt at age 20. Close to her 30th birthday, she wrote "Lady Lazarus" which begins:

"I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it--"

She compares her marriage to the constriction of a snare in "The Rabbit Catcher":

"And we, too, had a relationship--
Tight wires between us,
Pegs too deep to uproot, and a mind like a ring
Sliding shut on some quick thing,
The constriction killing me also."

The poems are not all angry or depressing. The love she feels for her children is especially evident in "Nick and the Candlestick". She is holding her infant in the night, imagining the room as a mine lit by a candle:

"Love, love,
I have hung our cave with roses.
With soft rugs--"

As dawn is breaking, a visit to her newborn daughter in "Morning Song" brings these tender words:

"All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear."

Plath wrote early in the morning as the sun was rising, before her children awoke. Ariel, the name of her horse, has been compared to the writer's muse. The ending lines of the title poem "Ariel" are exquisite:

"The child's cry

Melts in the wall.
And I
Am the arrow,

The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red

Eye, the cauldron of morning."
Profile Image for Rayne ♥.
197 reviews89 followers
May 9, 2021
This is the most pretentious, arbitrary, and chauvinistic piece of flaming fiction I've ever read.

I thought at first maybe a lack of focus was the issue while I was reading this poetry collection, but as the poems went on, I realized it was just the jumbled, confusing, half-formed poetry. I will admit, Plath has a way with imagery, certain poems seem to flaunt a sort of magic with words, but they are clipped and distorted.

Also, how is this supposed to be a feminist piece of fiction, when an author so blatantly does not include all women? Throughout this book there was slur after slur, offensive or maybe just inane comparisons, and a clear prejudice towards 'unfamiliar' aspects. It is disheartening to see how Plath's work is revelled even with its racist depictions, I do understand that for a lot of people her portrayal of mental health is important and maybe even comforting, but I do wish there was better portrayals of mental health in the media that lacked the prejudice, pretentiousness and muddled depictions that seems ever so present in Plath's work.

Still, I think this is trash and the only poems I enjoyed (or I dare say understood) are: Lady Lazarus, IV, paralytic, and the Munich mannequins.
Profile Image for Matthew Ted.
666 reviews544 followers
March 27, 2021
[30th book of 2021. No artist for this review.]

Poetry is slow reading and must be read aloud, otherwise, I believe, one gets nothing from it. It must also be read over several days or weeks; I usually aim for no more than 3 poems a day when reading poetry. One in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Reading aloud also shrinks the universe, and slows time. These poems resisted even 3 a day on some occasions, purely because of their nature and theme.

This is the collection husband Ted Hughes found after Plath’s suicide and published in ‘65—it became one of the most widely read poetry books of last century. I read the 1965 forty-three poem line-up, which was different to Plath’s original manuscript; Hughes replaced poems, dropped some and changed the collection’s order. Some of the poems added by Hughes for the collection are “Sheep in Fog”, “Years”, “Little Fugue”, “Kindness”, “Edge”, “Words” and more still. In 2004, a new edition of Ariel was published which maintained Plath’s original vision, poems and order restored. This edition was also published with an introduction by their daughter Freida Hughes.

As for the collection as a whole, I think there are some brilliant poems in here, and others that weren’t so powerful. As ever. Frankly, I still think The Bell Jar is the more realised piece from Plath. “Lady Lazarus” is as brilliant as when I first heard it, a haunting recording of Plath herself reading it, several years ago. One can poke through a few reviews and see the same poems coming up as favourites. I haven’t seen “Berck-Plage” mentioned, which surprised me, as it was one of my other favourites.

The opening of “Lady Lazarus”:
I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——
Profile Image for Magdalen.
178 reviews91 followers
February 8, 2017
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've a call.


The most accurate thing about Ariel has been said "In these poems Plath becomes herself"

I fear that I cannot be objective when I am writing (or talking) about Sylvia Plath because she speaks directly to my heart. I can relate to her poems, I can feel them.
Sylvia Plath is raw, brutal and bitter. That's a fact I suppose, right? But you see even in her darkest poem (for me) Lady Lazarus she manages to end the poem with an inspiring, uplifting way.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.


Also, you can listen Sylvia Plath reading it here There are also other poems she reads from the collection of Ariel, look it up if you haven't already.

Of course then there's Daddy, Elm, Ariel, A birthday present, Letter in November which I love. Some are bitter some are less dark. I have read those poems so many times and I still can't get enough.

Plath is my love and she has shaped me, so yes I can't be objective.
Profile Image for Ammar.
441 reviews217 followers
November 14, 2016
Definitely contain some of the best poems by Sylvia Plath. The one I most enjoyed was Lady Lazarus.

Profile Image for Kimber.
197 reviews61 followers
August 8, 2022
This is the originally published edition by her husband, Ted Hughes-- slightly different in arrangement and selection as Plath so carefully chose before her demise.

According to her biographer, Heather Clark, "Plath always clung to this principle- the symbolic transformation from winter to spring-in her life and her art." She noted that love is the first word of the book- it starts with her poem "Morning Song"- one of her most beautiful poems-and ends with the Bee sequence.

Sylvia turned her suffering into an art and for her suffering was an art. Her suicide is, in a sense, a performance art. These poems are so haunting as they are what she created four months (and some one week) before her suicide.

In her poem, "Edge" this Tragic Muse is shown most vividly.

Edge

The woman is perfected.
Her dead

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare

Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty.
She has folded

Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden

Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.

She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.


Sylvia made very good study of the Tragic in Art, particularly as a student at Cambridge, in London. Clark, "Tragedy [for Plath] was [as an artform] 'serene agony, almost mute in its grandeur'--words that summon the dead, statuesque Greek heroine of her late poem, "Edge." She considered that like in Greek tragedy, like Oedipus Rex, the 'fatal adversary is himself.' "

It is helpful to look at many of her poems with her context in mind.

"Daddy" is her most famous poem (this is probably my least favorite, but I will defend it for her).

Daddy

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time——
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You——

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through.
The black telephone’s off at the root,
The voices just can’t worm through.

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two——
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.


Daddy is her grief over the death of her father which happened when she was eight and really the root source of her suffering, her Manic Depressive Disorder and possibly the drive in writing her poetry and fiction. A misunderstanding comes in because her father is symbolically called a Nazi. The reasons for Plath's use of this symbolism is complex. She is German-Austrian descent hence she is ultra aware of what happened during the Holocaust. Plath used as her themes what she considered to be a vital part of her background. she lived through the Great War and the Atomic bomb. She felt it was important to remain conscious of these things-not to brush it aside. In this poem, it is the voice of a child calling for her "daddy" - the anger of a child who doesn't understand or accept- just wants the parent back-and in this anger calls the parent who she "adored" the most horrible names she could think of. She invoked the German guilt-calls him a Nazi. In fact, Otto Plath was not for Hitler at all and politically considered himself to always be a pacifist (as Sylvia also was.)

There was also the possibility of there being a German Jewish lineage within her family tree. Her line, "I may well be a Jew" is a simple reference to this fact- that she may be part Jewish. Sylvia embraced this fully and even revered the Jewish culture and race, often identifying herself with Judaism - when she was actually agnostic. She was far from being anti-Semitic for how can you revere a culture/creed but also hate it?

Also as revealed in Clark's biography: Plath took out a line on Alvarez's recommendation. It would have read "I may well be Japanese" this would have added breadth and taken some focus away from it just being "anti Semitic."

In her poetry she saw herself in the downtrodden figures, the refugees, the concentration camp survivors.... But her poetry is simply not always simply explained- much of it takes some critical analysis. I instinctively understood her- but couldn't explain at first.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,327 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.