I found this beautiful version of Ariel at Hebden Bridge, a little town just beneath the hill where Plath is buried at Heptonstall. Later I would later hike up there and see the two churches, the old one, burned down or deteriorated by time, and the new one that seemed dull to me compared to the expanse of a forgotten church. I didn’t know she was buried there so I walked right past her with her book in my bag. In the dullest of conclusion I hiked back down the hill without even knowing she was there.
Plath will always be special to me. The bell jar was the first book I read where I felt like someone understood just me and how life was for me. It’s a book I no longer own, I quickly passed it on to someone. I wanted them to understand, whether it was me or themselves I wished them to understand I cannot remember.
“And I a smiling woman. I am only thirty. And like the cat I have nine times to die.”
If this review reads a bit confessional it is fitting, because Plath is an originator of the confessional poem, poems that clearly draw from the lived life of the author and Ariel reads just like that. It is a different kind of reading when you know that someone was admitted to hospital and the poem is about that. You know that someone was abused and the blooms in the poems are the bruises of domestic violence.
“My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water”
These poems do not shy away from the reality, from the brutal. Still the words are beautiful. They read aloud into a pleasant rhythm and create images that feel like a true glimpse into Plath’s life. For better and for worse.