Ariel was a horse on which Sylvia Plath was learning to ride. The experience of riding it was the basis of her poem "Ariel", written in about October 1962, and this poem gave its name to the posthumous (1965) collection Ariel, on which her fame and importance chiefly rests.

The horse is referred to only allusively in the 31-line poem, as the arc of a neck she cannot catch, and a mention of Godiva, but is very present in the fierce motion and the imagery of sexual potential: both feminine and masculine (lioness, foam, arrow). She is fleeing from and to death ("suicidal, at one with the drive"), and the poem is pervaded by darkness and blood; and also by a sense of timeless or abolished space, opening with the words "Stasis in darkness / Then the substanceless blue".

The poems Plath was working on from about June 1962 to her death in February the following year are the ones her reputation rests on, including "Daddy", "Lady Lazarus", and all her preoccupation with death, Germans, Jews, mutilation, sexuality, rage, and so on. Ted Hughes collected them into a slim volume he called Ariel and they were published by Faber and Faber in 1965.

The poems in the collection are:

  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. Nick and the Candlestick
  15. Gulliver
  16. Getting There
  17. Medusa
  18. The Moon and the Yew Tree
  19. A Birthday Present
  20. Letter in November
  21. The Rival
  22. Daddy
  23. You're
  24. Fever 103º
  25. The Bee Meeting
  26. The Arrival of the Bee Box
  27. Stings
  28. Wintering
  29. The Hanging Man
  30. Little Fugue
  31. Years
  32. The Munich Mannequins
  33. Totem
  34. Paralytic
  35. Balloons
  36. Poppies in July
  37. Kindness
  38. Contusion
  39. Edge
  40. Words

N.B. Hardlinks in the above are for cross-reference only. None of the poem texts should exist on E2, as that would be copyright violation.