A Review of
Ariel by Sylvia Plath
Christopher Mulrooney

They will warn you about Sylvia Plath, she went insane and killed herself. Van Gogh, Nerval...
She's better than any of her critics, which is the unfailingly correct relationship. Robert Lowell qua critic loses his internal combustion engine on the highway: "These poems are playing Russian roulette with six cartridges in the cylinder... they tell that life, even when disciplined, is simply not worth it." Mind you, he recoups. "Somehow none of it sank very deep into my awareness... never guessed her later appalling and triumphant fulfillment."

I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand.

If you do not care to admit the life as caricatured, the work stands clear. Else were we all Drs. So-and-Such, round reflectors (each with a hole) to our brows, standing at the foot of her bed in a vaudeville sketch, reading her chart and moo-mooing. There is no patient.

The engine is killing the track, the track is silver,
It stretches into the distance. It will be eaten nevertheless.


I am mad, calls the spider, waving its many arms.

And in truth it is terrible,
Multiplied in the eyes of the flies.

They buzz like blue children
In nets of the infinite,

Roped in at the end by the one
Death with its many sticks.


People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.


It is they who own me.
Neither cruel nor indifferent,

Only ignorant.


My Japanese silks, desperate butterflies,
May be pinned any minute, anaesthetized.

And here you come, with a cup of tea
Wreathed in steam.
The blood jet is poetry,
There is no stopping it.
You hand me two children, two roses.