Ariel | Page 1 of 26

Author: Sylvia Plath | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 41543 Views | Add a Review

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A facsimile of Plath’s manuscript,

reinstating her original selection

and arrangement

Sylvia Plath


by Frieda Hughes

Table of Contents

Title Page


I: Ariel and other poems


Morning Song

The Couriers

The Rabbit Catcher


The Applicant

Barren Woman

Lady Lazarus


A Secret

The Jailor



The Night Dances

The Detective


Death & Co.



The Other

Stopped Dead

Poppies in October

The Courage of Shutting-Up

Nick and the Candlestick



Getting There



The Moon and the Yew Tree

A Birthday Present

Letter in November


The Rival



Fever 103°

The Bee Meeting

The Arrival of the Bee Box



II: Facsimile of the manuscript for Ariel and other


Ariel and other poems

III: Facsimile drafts of the poem ‘Ariel’


APPENDIX I: ‘The Swarm’

The Swarm

APPENDIX II: Script for the BBC broadcast ‘New

Poems by Sylvia Plath’


About the Author



This edition of Ariel by my mother, Sylvia Plath, exactly follows the arrangement of her last manuscript as she left it. As her daughter I can only approach it, and its divergence from the first United Kingdom publication of Ariel in 1965 and subsequent United States publication in 1966, both edited by my father, Ted Hughes, from the purely personal perspective of its history within my family.

When she committed suicide on February 11, 1963, my mother left a black spring binder on her desk, containing a manuscript of forty poems. She probably last worked on the manuscript’s arrangement in mid-November 1962. ‘Death & Co.’, written on the fourteenth of that month is the last poem to be included in her list of contents. She wrote an additional nineteen poems before her death, six of which she finished before our move to London from Devon on December 12, and a further thirteen in the last eight weeks of her life. These poems were left on her desk with the manuscript.

The first cleanly typed page of the manuscript gives the title of the collection as Ariel and other poems. On the two sheets that follow, alternative titles had been tried out, each title scored out in turn and a replacement handwritten above it. On one sheet the title was altered from The Rival to A Birthday Present to Daddy. On the other, the title changed from The Rival to The Rabbit Catcher to A Birthday Present to Daddy. These new title poems are in chronological order (July 1961, May 1962, September 1962, and October 1962) and give an idea of earlier possible dates of her rearrangement of the working manuscript.

When Ariel was first published, edited by my father, it was a somewhat different collection from the manuscript my mother left behind. My father had roughly followed the order of my mother’s contents list, taking twelve poems out of the U.S. publication, and thirteen out of the U.K. publication. He replaced these with ten selected for the U.K. edition, and twelve selected for the U.S. edition. These he chose from the nineteen very late poems written after mid-November 1962, and three earlier poems.

There was no lack of choice. Since the publication of The Colossus in 1960, my mother had written many poems that showed an advance on her earlier work. These were transitional poems between the very different styles of The Colossus and Ariel (a selection of them was published in Crossing the Water in 1971). But towards the end of 1961, poems in the Ariel voice began to appear here and there among the transitional poems. They had an urgency, freedom, and force that was quite new in her work. In October 1961, there was ‘The Moon and the Yew Tree’ and ‘Little Fugue’; ‘An Appearance’

followed in April 1962. From this point, all the poems she wrote were in the distinctive Ariel voice. They are poems of an otherworldly, menacing landscape:

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,


I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

(‘The Moon and the Yew Tree’)

Then, still in early April 1962, she wrote ‘Among the Narcissi’ and

‘Pheasant’, moments of perfect poetic poise, tranquil and melancholy—the calm before the storm:

You said you would kill it this morning.

Do not kill it. It startles me still,

The jut of the odd, dark head, pacing

Through the uncut grass on the elm’s hill.


After that, the poems came with increasing frequency, ease, and ferocity, culminating in October 1962 when she wrote twenty-five major poems. Her very last poems were written six days before she died.

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user comment image
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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