Ariel’s Gift by Erica Wagner offers a revolutionary commentary on Ted Hughes’s astonishing volume of poems Birthday Letters, a twenty-five year project addressed almost exclusively to his first wife, Sylvia Plath.
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Erica Wagner provides a comprehensive guide to the poems that must constitute one of the most extraordinary and powerful volumes published in the last century. When Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters was published in 1998, it was greeted with astonishment and acclaim. Few suspected that Ted Hughes had been at work, for a quarter of a century, on a cycle of poems addressed almost entirely to his first wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath. In Ariel’s Gift, Erica Wagner offers a commentary on the poems, pointing the reader towards the events that shaped them, and, crucially, showing how they draw upon Plath’s own work.