1. The numbers 3 and 7 both have ancient religious, mystical and magical importance (e.g. in Christian religion, the Trinity and the seven days of the Creation).

2. Plath’s note for a BBC script. Ariel: The Restored Edition, p.196.

3. Sylvia Plath Collected Poems, Note 194, p 294.

4. Surprisingly, given the energy of the poem, Anne Stevenson in Bitter Fame (p. 272), notes that this horse was “an elderly, ponderous horse”.

5. Hughes, T. ‘The Evolution of ‘Sheep in Fog’, Winter Pollen, p.199.

6. Rákóczi, The Painted Caravan, p.54.

7. Plath records this ride vividly in ‘Whiteness I Remember’ (Sylvia Plath: Collected Poems, pp.102-3). Ted Hughes’ poem ‘Sam’ also describes it (Birthday Letters, Faber, 1998, pp.10-11).

8. Hughes, Winter Pollen, p.200.

9. Crowley, A. The Book of Thoth, Samuel Weiser Inc. York Beach, Maine, 1985, pp.103-4. There is no evidence that Plath read Crowley’s work, most of which was only available in libraries until The Book of Thoth and the cards described in it were published in a trade edition in 1985. However, much of Crowley’s teaching was repeated in more easily available books of occult lore.

10. Hughes to Sagar, 23 May 1981, in Reid, C. (ed.), Letters of Ted Hughes, p.446.

11. Brain, T. ‘Unstable Manuscripts’, in Helle, A. (ed.), The Unravelling Archive, p.18.

12. Plath, Ariel: The Restored Edition, p.196-7. In Sylvia Plath: Collected Poems, Ted Hughes adds that “the actual occasion was a visit by two well–meaning men who invited TH to live abroad at a tempting salary, and whom she therefore resented”. Neither explanation rules out the possibility of another, occult, meaning to the poem.

13. ‘Proverbs of Hell’, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in Plowman, M (ed.) William Blake: Poems and Prophecies, Dent, London, 1970, p.45.

14. William Blake. “ How do you know but that ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, closed by our senses five?” . ‘A Memorable Fancy’, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, In Plowman, M (ed.),William Blake: Poems and Prophecies, p.44.

15. Hughes, F. Interviewed in Ariel: The Restored Edition, p.6. She went on to say that she “remembered being driven around in a car full of cats and my little brother” and that she identified with the references in the poem.

16. Hughes, F. ‘Foreword’ to Ariel: The Restored Edition, pp.xv-xvi.

17. Huson, P. The Devil’s Picture Book, Abacus, 1972. p.228.

18. Plath’s journal entry for 29 March 1958, in Kukil, K.(ed.), Journals of Sylvia Plath, p.360.

19. Crowley, A. The Book of Thoth, p.108.

20. Generally, dogs do the goddesses’ bidding, as did the dogs which devoured Acteon after he encountered the virgin huntress, Diana, bathing. Hecate/ Diana (before Diana became known as the Virgin Huntress) was a night–huntress accompanied by a pack of demon dogs. She was also, in one of her Roman forms, a goddess of fertility.

21. Frieda Hughes wrote of “the extreme ferocity with which some of [her] mother’s poems dismembered those close to her…even neighbours and acquaintances. ‘Foreword’, Ariel: The Restored Edition. pp.xvii-xviii.

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