In reading the Ariel poems, I’ve discovered some new “echoes” as I call Sylvia Plath’s repeated imagery. Beginning with Mystic, written on February 1, 1963 – ten days before her suicide – she begins to mention air/smoke, colors (deviating from her usual red/blue), rings, and window/mirrors.
“The air is a mill of hooks.”
“The dead smell of sun on wood cabins”.
“The chimneys of the city breathe, the window sweats”.
From Kindness, written the same day:
“The blue and red jewels of rings smoke/in the windows, the mirrors”
“… with a cup of tea/wreathed in steam”
The same day, in Words:
After whose stroke the wood rings”
Three days later on February 4, she picks up again with Contusions (with no poems intervening):
“The mirrors are sheeted”.
In Contusion, she also falls back on her sea imagery, mentioning a pearl, a “wash”, “the sea sucks obsessively”, “the whole sea’s pivot”. She will mention water or the sea in the very next poem, Balloons, and Edge, her last two poems – so water literally obsessed her until the very end.
In Balloons, she mentions “invisible air drifts”.
In Edge, her final poem, all the images are new, except for one regarding the sea: “Each dead child coiled, a white serpent”.
The ideas of smoke and air lifting seems to have been particularly strong for her those last few days. I am still trying to unlock the meaning.