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Lyric Poetry

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					  Lyric Poetry
The Cultural Life of a Concept
      Historical Definitions
• Thought of as a song
• Opposed to narrative and dramatic
  forms of poetry
• An objective genre, not dependent on
  – Attitude
  – Theme
  – Rhetoric
  Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  A lyric must ―be one, the parts of
which mutually support and explain
each other, all in their proportion
harmonizing with, and supporting the
purpose and known influence of
metrical arrangement.‖
        Edgar Allen Poe
The lyric must be brief
 —Philosophy of Composition
       William Wordsworth
―The spontaneous overflow of powerful
  feelings.‖
                Hegel
―An intensely subjective and personal
  expression.‖
        John Stuart Mill
―The utterance that is overheard.‖

  'Lyric poetry' is 'more eminently and
peculiarly poetry than any other.' (1833
discussion of Wordsworth)
  Frances Turner Palgrave
  ―Lyrical has been here held essentially to
imply that each Poem shall turn on some
single thought, feeling, or situation. In
accordance with this, narrative, descriptive,
and didactic poems—unless accompanied by
rapidity of movement, brevity, and the
colouring of human passion—have been
excluded.‖
    —Preface to The Golden Treasury (1861)
        John Drinkwater
―The characteristic of the lyric is that it is the
 product of the pure poetic energy
 unassociated with other energies, and that
 lyric and poetry are synonymous terms.‖
                    —The Lyric (1920)
           Eunice Tietjens
"The lyric deals first of all with the heart, and
 the other forms of poetry, to a greater or less
 degree, with the mind. And fashions in
 thought change with unchanging rapidity. But
 the heart does not change. . . . The first
 essential of a lyric is therefore that it shall
 deal with a fundamental, a universal emotion
 of the human heart. The lyrist must be able to
 see through the swathings of thought the
 eternal core of emotion.‖
           —1923
            J.C. Squire
"Contemporary poetry, the best of it, is
 lyrical. That is to say, it deals very little
 with ideas. . . . It is with simple matters
 that most good modern English verse is
 concerned; and a simple lyric may outlive
 many ambitious monuments.‖
               —Poets of Our Time (1932)
           Herbert Read

"clarity, succinctness, simplicity‖
         —Nature of Metaphysical Poetry (1938)
          M.H. Abrams
―Any fairly short poem consisting of the
 utterance by a single speaker, who
 expresses a state of mind or a process
 of perception, thought, and feeling.
 Many lyric speakers are represented as
 musing in solitude.‖
           Helen Vendler
A lyric‘s function is to give ―aesthetically
convincing representations of feelings
felt and thoughts thought.‖
    —The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, 1997
           Sharon Cameron
―Unlike the drama, whose province is conflict, and unlike
the novel or narrative, which connects isolated moments
of time to create a story multiply peopled and framed by
a social context, the lyric voice speaks out of a single
moment in time.‖
―The heart of the lyric‘s sense of time might be specified,
at least preliminarily, by its propensity to interiorize as
ambiguity or outright contradiction those conflicts that
other mimetic forms conspicuously exteriorize and then
allocate to discrete characters who enact them in the
manifest pull of opposite points of view.‖
                                     —Lyric Time, 1979
           George T. Wright
―In their ‗pure‘ forms the lyric presents one speaker, the
drama more than one. We call lyrical, therefore, those
dramas in which one character (with his point of view)
so predominates that his confrontations of other
characters seem falsified: the meetings with other
personae are merely opportunities for their spiritual
domination by the hero.
―Similarly, the lyric is or becomes dramatic when it
presents not a single point of view but a struggle
between conflicting points of view. The deliberate
placing of a distance between the poet and his lyric
persona effectively dramatizes the substance of the
poem.‖
                              —―The Faces of the Poet‖
               Lyric Poem
short
personal expression of an ―I‖
usually ruminative and retrospective,
minimally narrative
sudden, epiphanic moment of realization at
  the end
   Hugh Holman, ―Closure‖
―The principle that structured things do
 not just stop, they come to an end with
 a sense of conclusion, completeness,
 wholeness, integrity, finality, and
 termination.‖
                The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow          And both that morning equally lay
   wood,                                In leaves no step had trodden black.
And sorry I could not travel both       Oh, I kept the first for another day!
And be one traveler, long I stood       Yet knowing how way leads on to
And looked down one as far as I could       way,
To where it bent in the undergrowth;    I doubted if I should ever come back.

Then took the other, as just as fair,   I shall be telling this with a sigh
And having perhaps the better claim,    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Because it was grassy and wanted        Two roads diverged in a wood, and
  wear;                                     I—
Though as for that the passing there    I took the one less traveled by,
Had worn them really about the same,    And that has made all the difference.
                                                 —Robert Frost, 1916
                                         Digging
Between my finger and my thumb                    My grandfather cut more turf in a day
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.               Than any other man on Toner‘s bog.
                                                  Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Under my window, a clean rasping sound            Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
                                                  To drink it, then fell to right away
My father, digging. I look down
                                                  Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds      Over his shoulder, going down and down
Bends low, comes up twenty years away             For the good turf. Digging.
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.                             The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch
                                                      and slap
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft     Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.       Through living roots awaken in my head.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge   But I‘ve no spade to follow men like them.
   deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
                                                  Between my finger and my thumb
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
                                                  The squat pen rests.
By God, the old man could handled a spade.        I‘ll dig with it.
Just like his old man.                                         —Seamus Heaney, 1966

				
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