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Ariel -- Sylvia Plath

(Poem #129) Ariel
Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.

God's lioness,
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees! ---The furrow

Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,

Berries cast dark
Hooks ---

Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Something else

Hauls me through air ---
Thighs, hair;
Flakes from my heels.

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.
-- Sylvia Plath
I haven't the slightest idea what this poem is about. But I think it's
absolutely brilliant. The sheer unadulterated _power_ of the words is
simply stunning.



Sylvia Plath was born in Boston in 1932. She grew up in a comfortably
middle-class style and attended Smith College. She suffered a breakdown
at the end of her junior year of college, but recovered well enough to
return and excel during her senior year, receiving various prizes and
graduating summa cum laude. In 1955, having been awarded a Fulbright
scholarship, she began two years at Cambridge University. There she met
and married the British poet Ted Hughes and settled in England, bearing
two children. Her first book of poems, The Colossus (1960), demonstrated
her precocious talent, but was far more conventional than the work that
followed. Having studied with Robert Lowell in 1959 and been influenced
by the "confessional" style of his collection Life Studies, she embarked
on the new work that made her posthumous reputation as a major poet. A
terrifying record of her encroaching mental illness, the poems that were
collected after her suicide (at age 31) in 1963 in the volumes Ariel,
Crossing the Water, and Winter Trees are graphically macabre,
hallucinatory in their imagery, but full of ironic wit, technical
brilliance, and tremendous emotional power.

    -- the Academy of American Poets

53 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Pogonogo61 said...

Sylvia Plath...Ariel....the poem is stunning, it is cold, pure, energy,
directly us to the rising sun, the red cauldren of her ending. Nonsensical
and logical at the same time. She might as well describe the atom splitting
or wave particle duality. She is getting at the real, the now, the
life-force itself. It makes you wonder what she would have become if she had
lived. She is the quantum mechanic of poetry....Symbolist and realist
combined, she is original to the core.

nd said...

dear thomas - i have been unable to access the page on the anaylsis of the
poem ariel by david dunson as recommended by yourself.
can you send me a link of this page please..........
thank you and your help is much appreciated
greetings from singapore

Chicago51FDNY said...

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

you wote: I haven't the slightest idea what this poem is about. But I
think it's absolutely brilliant. The sheer unadulterated _power_ of the
words is simply stunning.

.....Shes talking about her horse and how she feels free from everything
around her when she rides....

From Chicago

Drew Arent said...

Look as a poem by W.Carlos Williams called "Poem." It's focus is similar to that of Plath's "Ariel," which is movement. The horse runs wild and out of control ("The brown art of the neck I cannot catch) until she lets go and finally transcends to a more enlightened view of "controlling life."
This poem is written in the shadow of verbal irony, especially in the situation I just mentioned above. The entire poem is written with dark word choices and dark, dehumanizing images (i.e. "nigger-eye) to describe a Life Force she cannot control.
It's easy to at first see this poem in the mental image of dark to dawn. In the beginning, it's "stasis in darkness" and goes to "the cauldron of the morning," suggesting re-birth. The entire poem's about birth.
We "unpeel" our dead stringencies.
Consider DH Lawrence's philosophy that "We must die in order to be re-born." He believed that, like a snake molting his skin, human beings die a metaphysical death every day (or moment, depending on the situation). There cannot be life without death. The horse, Ariel, is the vehicle, the current of life that is chaotic and forceful at first that "hauls" her "through air." Then we slowly realize that we are, perhaps, at the mercy of this seemingly chaotic yet natural Life Force. Plath's word choice for "Suicidal" encapsulates all of this.
It is not (like a lot of people think), a projection of Plath's own course in life since she did end up putting her head in an oven. In my opinion. It is the epitome of taking control over one's life and destroying it in order to bloom through your own ashes "into the red, Eye, the cauldron of morning."

Jessica Plaisted said...

Where can I gain access to the critical analysis of Ariel?

Thank you,
Jessica Plaisted

Amanda Gomes said...

Sylvia Plath RULZ!!!!!!!
I am 16yrs old and in my lit clas we are disscusing her Bee Poems.The poems are so mysterious.We were asked by my teacher to write a poem like hers.It was a bit hard.Maybe I'll post it here next time.
Dee aka LAFRED

Tiffany Burrows said...

Hi! My name is Tiffany and I love Sylvia Plath's poetry works. I am doing a
lot of work at the moment on Ariel and would like to view the analysis for
the poem however I am unable to view this page! Please could you send me the
link or the analysis!



Anonymous said...

Hi do you think you could help me think of an idea for my IB english IOP related to this poem! asap! ty :)

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