On Sylvia’s 30th Birthday

October 27, 1962, she writes about “Ariel.”
An airy spirit from Shakespeare’s The Tempest
and the horse she would sometimes ride.
All captured, trapped, until “Then to the
elements, be free, and fare thou well.’


Prospero commanding Ariel by John White Abbott (1763–1851)

The following February after writing the poem – on February 11, 1963 – Sylvia would commit suicide. The poem was published after her death.

You can read Plath’s poems at poetryfoundation.org and see her original handwritten copy and learn more about the poem at uk/20th-century-literature


At the garden edges, the volunteer seedlings

grow on their own despite my human

weeding deliberations at order, symmetry and control.

Thankfully not reliably identical to their parents.

Volunteers try modestly to change the world.


Lychnis coronaria Rose Campion