'Ariel' by Sylvia Plath
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The Collected Poems1962Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.God's lioness,
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees! -- The furrowSplits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,Nigger-eye
Berries cast dark
Hooks ----Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Something elseHauls me through air ----
Flakes from my heels.White
Godiva, I unpeel ----
Dead hands, dead stringencies.And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child's cryMelts in the wall.
Am the arrow,The dew that flies,
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the redEye, the cauldron of morning.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Ariel by Sylvia Plath: A Profound Exploration of Life and Death
Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer born in 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts. Her work is known for its intense and personal themes, and her poetry has become a staple of the modern literary canon. One of her most famous works, Ariel, was published posthumously in 1965 and has since become a critical and popular success.
In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will be exploring the themes, structure, and imagery of Ariel and examining the ways in which Plath grapples with the themes of life and death, power and control, and the female experience.
At the heart of Ariel are the themes of life and death. Plath's poetry is often marked by a preoccupation with death and her own mortality, and Ariel is no exception. The collection is deeply personal and explores Plath's own struggles with suicide and mental illness.
The poem "Lady Lazarus" is perhaps the most famous in the collection and speaks directly to this theme. The speaker in the poem declares herself to be a "walking miracle" and a "dying woman" who has "eaten men like air." The imagery is powerful and disturbing, and the poem seems to be a commentary on the commodification of trauma and the way in which society consumes women's pain for entertainment.
Another theme that runs throughout the collection is power and control. Plath's work often explores the ways in which women are oppressed and controlled by patriarchal systems, and Ariel is no different. The poem "Daddy" is perhaps the most famous example of this, with the speaker addressing her dead father and declaring "I have killed one man, I have killed two--/The vampire who said he was you." The poem is a powerful and disturbing meditation on the ways in which women are controlled and victimized by men.
Finally, the female experience is a central theme in the collection. Plath's work is deeply rooted in her own experiences as a woman, and Ariel is no exception. The poem "Ariel" speaks to this directly, with the speaker declaring "I am the arrow,/The dew that flies/Suicidal, at one with the drive/Into the red/eye, the cauldron of morning." The imagery here is both powerful and evocative, and speaks directly to the experiences of women who have been marginalized and oppressed by society.
The structure of Ariel is significant and adds to the overall impact of the collection. The poems are divided into two sections, with the first section containing more personal and introspective poems, while the second section contains more political and socially conscious work.
The collection is also marked by a sense of progression, with the poems becoming increasingly intense and more visceral as the collection progresses. This is particularly evident in the second section, where the poems become more political and confrontational.
Finally, the use of repetition is significant in the collection. Many of the poems contain repeated phrases or images, which creates a sense of unity and coherence throughout the collection. This repetition also serves to emphasize the central themes of the collection and to create a sense of urgency and intensity.
The imagery in Ariel is powerful and evocative, and serves to reinforce the central themes of the collection. The collection is marked by a sense of physicality, with the poems often containing graphic and visceral images that are both disturbing and beautiful.
The poem "Edge" is perhaps the most striking example of this, with the speaker declaring "The woman is perfected/Her dead/Body wears the smile of accomplishment." The imagery is both disturbing and haunting, and speaks directly to Plath's own struggles with suicide and mental illness.
The use of animal imagery is also significant in the collection. Many of the poems contain references to animals, which serve to emphasize the primal and instinctual nature of the human experience. This is particularly evident in the poem "Fever 103°," which contains references to snakes, foxes, and other animals.
In conclusion, Ariel is a profound and deeply personal exploration of life and death, power and control, and the female experience. The collection is marked by a sense of urgency and intensity, and the imagery is both powerful and evocative. Plath's work has become a staple of the modern literary canon, and Ariel remains a powerful and important work that continues to resonate with readers today.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Sylvia Plath's Ariel: A Masterpiece of Confessional Poetry
Sylvia Plath's Ariel is a collection of poems that has been hailed as a masterpiece of confessional poetry. The poems in this collection were written during the last few months of Plath's life, and they reflect her intense emotional turmoil and her struggle with mental illness. Ariel is a deeply personal and raw exploration of the human psyche, and it has become a touchstone for readers and writers alike.
The collection begins with the poem "Morning Song," which is a tribute to Plath's newborn daughter. The poem is a celebration of new life, but it is also tinged with a sense of anxiety and uncertainty. Plath writes, "I'm no more your mother / Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow / Effacement at the wind's hand." This line captures the ambivalence that Plath feels towards motherhood, and it sets the tone for the rest of the collection.
The next poem in the collection, "The Couriers," is a stark contrast to "Morning Song." It is a dark and foreboding poem that explores the theme of death. Plath writes, "The bees are flying. They taste the spring. / And one by one the days are peeled away, / Stripper of their raiment, and the mask of glass / Has taken a white nova's scalp, and a dark / Hair flutters out." This imagery is haunting and powerful, and it sets the stage for the rest of the collection.
One of the most famous poems in the collection is "Daddy." This poem is a searing indictment of Plath's father, who died when she was only eight years old. Plath uses the metaphor of a Nazi to describe her father, and she writes, "I have always been scared of you, / With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo. / And your neat mustache / And your Aryan eye, bright blue." This poem is a powerful exploration of the complex relationship between a daughter and her father, and it has become one of Plath's most famous works.
Another notable poem in the collection is "Lady Lazarus." This poem is a meditation on death and rebirth, and it is one of Plath's most powerful works. Plath writes, "Dying / Is an art, like everything else. / I do it exceptionally well." This line captures the sense of control that Plath feels over her own life and death, and it is a testament to her strength and resilience.
Throughout the collection, Plath explores themes of love, loss, and identity. She writes about her own struggles with mental illness, and she uses her poetry as a way to process her emotions and experiences. The poems in Ariel are deeply personal and raw, and they offer a glimpse into the mind of one of the most talented poets of the 20th century.
In addition to its literary significance, Ariel has also become a cultural touchstone. The collection has been referenced in countless works of literature, music, and film, and it has inspired generations of writers and artists. Plath's legacy continues to live on, and her work remains as relevant and powerful today as it was when it was first published.
In conclusion, Sylvia Plath's Ariel is a masterpiece of confessional poetry. The collection is a deeply personal and raw exploration of the human psyche, and it has become a touchstone for readers and writers alike. The poems in Ariel are haunting and powerful, and they offer a glimpse into the mind of one of the most talented poets of the 20th century. Plath's legacy continues to live on, and her work remains as relevant and powerful today as it was when it was first published.
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