Ariel (poetry collection)

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First edition cover
AuthorSylvia Plath
CountryUnited States
PublisherFaber and Faber
Publication date

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.[1]

In the 1965 edition of Ariel, Ted Hughes changed Plath's chosen selection and arrangement by dropping twelve poems, adding twelve composed a few months later and shifting the poems' ordering, in addition to including an introduction by the poet Robert Lowell.[2] Having Lowell write the introduction to the book was appropriate, since, in a BBC interview, Plath cited Lowell's book Life Studies as having had a profound influence over the poetry she was writing in this last phase of her writing career.[3] In the same interview, Plath also cited the poet Anne Sexton as an important influence on her writing during this time since Sexton was also exploring some of the same dark, taboo, personal subject matter that Plath was exploring in her writing.[3]

In 2004, a new edition of Ariel was published which for the first time restored the selection and arrangement of the poems as Plath had left them; the 2004 edition also features a foreword by Plath and Hughes' daughter Frieda Hughes.[2]

Contents (1965 version)[edit]

Poems marked with an * were not in Plath's original manuscript, but were added by Ted Hughes. Most of them date from the last few weeks of Plath's life.

  1. "Morning Song"
  2. "The Couriers"
  3. "Sheep in Fog" *
  4. "The Applicant"
  5. "Lady Lazarus"
  6. "Tulips"
  7. "Cut"
  8. "Elm"
  9. "The Night Dances"
  10. "Poppies in October"
  11. "Berck-Plage"
  12. "Ariel"
  13. "Death & Co."
  14. "Lesbos" (censored in some publications, not included in UK version)
  15. "Nick and the Candlestick"
  16. "Gulliver"
  17. "Getting There"
  18. "Medusa"
  19. "The Moon and the Yew Tree"
  20. "A Birthday Present"
  21. "Mary's Song" * (only in US version)
  22. "Letter in November"
  23. "The Rival"
  24. "Daddy"
  25. "You're"
  26. "Fever 103°"
  27. "The Bee Meeting"
  28. "The Arrival of the Bee Box"
  29. "Stings"
  30. "The Swarm"* (only in US version)
  31. "Wintering"
  32. "The Hanging Man"*
  33. "Little Fugue"*
  34. "Years"*
  35. "The Munich Mannequins"*
  36. "Totem"*
  37. "Paralytic"*
  38. "Balloons"*
  39. "Poppies in July"*
  40. "Kindness"*
  41. "Contusion"*
  42. "Edge"*
  43. "Words"*


Marjorie Perloff said in her article, "The Two Ariels: The (Re)making Of The Sylvia Plath Canon” that “The fact remains that Plath herself had arranged the future Ariel poems ‘in a careful sequence,’ plotting out every detail including the first and last words of the volume."[4] Another critic remarked that “her poetry would have been valuable no matter what she had written about.”[4]


  • 1982 - Pulitzer Prize for Poetry[5]


Upon analyzing the collection of poems along with considering her other work, it is concluded that like her other poems, "Ariel" is "highly autobiographical, psychological and confessional poem."[6]

Additional poems in her manuscript[edit]

  1. "The Rabbit Catcher"
  2. "Thalidomide"
  3. "Barren Woman"
  4. "A Secret"
  5. "The Jailor"
  6. "The Detective"
  7. "Magi"
  8. "The Other"
  9. "Stopped Dead"
  10. "The Courage of Shutting-Up"
  11. "Purdah"
  12. "Amnesiac"
  13. "Lesbos" (included in US version)


  1. ^ "On "The Colossus"". Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  2. ^ a b "Ariel: The Restored Edition: A Facsimile of Plath's Manuscript, Reinstating Her Original Selection and Arrangement by Sylvia Plath – Powell's Books". Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  3. ^ a b "YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  4. ^ a b Blakemore, Erin (11 February 2015). "Sylvia Plath's "Ariel," 50 Years Later". JSTOR Daily. Retrieved 12 October 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Sylvia Plath". The Vintage News. Retrieved 12 October 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "Critical Analysis of "Ariel" | A Poem by Sylvia Plath". ASKLITERATURE. Retrieved 27 October 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]