Journal article

Maenad: Instructions for an Improvisation after Sylvia Plath's 'Poem for a Birthday'

Danae Killian

Plath Profiles: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Sylvia Plath Studies | IUScholarWorks and Indiana University Bloomington Libraries | Published : 2020


Maenad is an aleatoric musical composition, written in the form of instructions for an improvisation. It imaginatively follows the trajectory of Sylvia Plath’s seven-part “Poem for a Birthday” (1959), which, in its mystical density and complexity, prefigures the narrative of alchemical self-transformation that propels the later Ariel. Maenad is composed in seven episodes, each of which is named, in sequence, after one of the parts of Plath’s “Poem for a Birthday,” and each of which seeks freely to unknot and unravel one or more element in Plath’s extraordinarily rich weave of imagery and associative meaning. The title of the improvisation as a whole—Maenad—takes its name from the third poem ..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers