I cannot put my finger on the source of the magic Plath works on me. When I read her poems it's as if a sister has come and taken my hand in the darkness. She cannot make one wrong step, like a beloved elder she is always clever and wise. I can't criticise; I'm an adoring fan.
I read aloud and I cannot get music. And here is an image that does not leap to life, and here is something dated. Plath is not perfect, I can see that now, so I can see where she is strong: in her fearlessness in mining the depths, in her glacial clarity, in her sharp wit and tender wisdom.
She writes so much about women: her own experience as a woman, of the female body, of female roles. Her work is of its time in that - it's a marker hinting how much (or little) progress feminism has made, how much it has changed. Her anxiety about ageing is unbearably poignant in Mirror.
Elsewhere, she reaches a mystical tone, a voice intoning a rite, ringing the bones. She has a feeling for the shadow cast over us by death. Stone and water, plants and the body are her elements. She is ceremonial. Yet sisterly always, intimate. Perhaps that's the magic...