“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, Lady Lazarus
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. In the 1965 edition of Ariel, Ted Hughes changed Plath’s chosen selection and arrangement by dropping and adding 12 poems. Not sure how I feel about that one but…
I love Ariel. It awoke a burning love for poetry in me. Her poems are raw and bitterly beautiful. I liked almost all of the poems in Ariel…if I had to pick, I suppose I adore Lady Lazarus, Ariel, Elm and Fever 103. I like how love and darkness are portrayed in Elm and Fever 103 is tastefully delirious. Ariel is the title of poetry collection so how can you not like it?
“I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.
Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables?
Is it for such I agitate my heart?”
― Sylvia Plath,Elm
There was one poem I didn’t like. What’s Daddy all about ? Meaning of it escaped me: “Daddy, I have had to kill you. You died before I had time——” So what was the meaning of all the WW2 talk and why she was so mad at him. Or did she despise her roots? Was it because of the war. All in all, I did not get it.
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.
My all-time favorite poem is Lady Lazarus. I feel a very deep connection to it. Partly because my name means rebirth too so I really like all the references to the Phoenix and the theme of resurrection. And it’s so victorious. After everything, Lady Lazarus rises from the ashes and not God nor Devil can stop her.
“Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.”
― Sylvia Plath, Lady Lazarus
Utterly glorious piece of book.
How-To Read Ariel
1. Be warned that it’s incredibly sad. Suicidal even.
2.Get your own copy of the book. With poetry, you have to stop and listen. What does it mean? What was the poet thinking? But if you’re feeling very deprived, you can find Plath’s poems on Poetry Foundation website. Moreover, there also great youtube videos where poems are read by Plath.
3.I feel like winter and early spring are the perfect seasons to read Plath’s poetry. Many of her poems in Ariel mention winter also.
4. Poetry is difficult…and slow. And Plath is complicated. Take your time with it.
5.If you liked ‘The Bell Jar’, you should definitely read this. And the other way around too.
Have you read Ariel? What is your favorite poem? Why?