Books: The Blood Jet Is Poetry

ARIEL by Sylvia Plath. 85 pages. Harper & Row. $4.95.

On a dank day in February 1963, a pretty young mother of two children was found in a London flat with her head in the oven and the gas jets wide open. The dead woman was Sylvia Plath, 30, an American poet whose marriage to Ted Hughes, a British poet, had gone on the rocks not long before. Her published verses, appearing occasionally in American magazines and gathered in a single volume, The Colossus, had displayed accents of refinement, but had not yet achieved authority of tone.

But within a week of...

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