Sylvia Plath was a 20th Century American poet and novelist. Ariel
, comprising of 43 poems, was her second book of poems and was published 2 years after her death.
I first read (and studied to death) Ariel
in College (a few years ago now) and at the time I didn't really enjoy it. Having said that, my enjoyment of anything literary is always diminished when I have to study it with my brain and not feel it with my heart, instead. This second read-through has been all heart and my enjoyment has burst at the seams.
There are several themes running through these poems; mostly her father, the moon, the yew tree, bees, children and death. The interwoven themes make the book as a whole much stronger, but that doesn't mean that each poem will be any good.
I personally prefer to read my poetry out loud; you truly feel the rhythm if you do this, and Plath's poetry is made for reading aloud: the sentences are often jarring but also silky smooth, they resound with assonance or stutter with ellipsis. The sounds your mouth make whilst reading these poem is quite wonderful.