Manuscript fair copy of Sylvia Plath's 'Ariel', dedicated to Al Alvarez


Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Ariel’ portrays the poet riding a horse at daybreak. The rider does not appear to be fully in control: ‘Shadows. /Something else / Hauls me through air–’. She advances towards the morning sun as if driven by a magnetic force. As Ted Hughes clarified in his explanatory notes to the poem, Ariel was the name of Plath’s horse. However, the title could have other referents: Ariel is also a character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a spirit who eventually achieves freedom from Prospero.

Plath dedicated this manuscript fair copy of the poem to her friend the literary critic Al Alvarez. Alvarez, then poetry editor for the Observer newspaper, was one of the early champions of Plath’s poetry. He wrote an encouraging review of Plath’s first collection, The Colossus, and was one of the first people to hear the poems she wrote in 1962, which Plath read to him on a visit to his flat in London.

Full title:
Alvarez Papers. Vol. cviii. Poems, interviews, etc., by Sylvia Plath; 1951-1971, n.d. Partly French translations.
c. 1962, Devon
Manuscript / Fair copy
Sylvia Plath
Usage terms

© Estate of Sylvia Plath. No copying, republication or modification is allowed for material © The Plath Estate. For further use of this material please seek formal permission from the copyright holder.

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British Library
Add MS 88589

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Created by: Sylvia Plath

Ariel is a posthumously published collection of poetry by the American poet Sylvia Plath: her second, after The ...