The Roots Essay Human Lyrics

The Roots Essay Human Lyrics-64
In her essay “Coherent Decentering,” Annie Finch agrees with this critique of the notion of the stable self: “Like many contemporary writers, I find the Romantic poetic construct of the fixed, central self and its point of view to be extraordinarily limited. The poet and philosopher John Koethe is succinct: “I know that exist, but what about that place we lived? / / —Of course it is.” That is to say, we have a self because we insist on an “I” as separate from a “you” or a “she.” And when we say “I,” we all seem to agree more or less on what that word signifies. I wish I could propose a tidy linear, historical explanation: that the first lyric poetry was private and coherent, and that poetry has become more complicated or contaminated as it addresses its social and postmodern mien; or that the history of privacy in the lyric has moved from fact to irony to utter impossibility; or vice versa. The issue has never been stable, just as the self has never been stable.

In her essay “Coherent Decentering,” Annie Finch agrees with this critique of the notion of the stable self: “Like many contemporary writers, I find the Romantic poetic construct of the fixed, central self and its point of view to be extraordinarily limited. The poet and philosopher John Koethe is succinct: “I know that exist, but what about that place we lived? / / —Of course it is.” That is to say, we have a self because we insist on an “I” as separate from a “you” or a “she.” And when we say “I,” we all seem to agree more or less on what that word signifies. I wish I could propose a tidy linear, historical explanation: that the first lyric poetry was private and coherent, and that poetry has become more complicated or contaminated as it addresses its social and postmodern mien; or that the history of privacy in the lyric has moved from fact to irony to utter impossibility; or vice versa. The issue has never been stable, just as the self has never been stable.When I turn far back to the classical Greek poets, I find it significant that already the literary arts have gravitated into discreet genres.

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The second category, poems, does not indicate a poem sung in mourning, but rather a metrical structure.

Greek elegiac couplets are made of a line of dactylic hexameter followed by a line of dactylic pentameter.

Our present issue finds its focus in lyric meditation and the problem of people.

In parsing these three categories into more specific rhetorical modes or landscapes, we have looked at other problematics within the lyric: pastoral poetry (thus, the problem of nature), the sublime (the problem of beauty), and narrative and syntax (the problem of time).

Conventional definitions of the lyric poem generally abide by Roman Jakobsen’s assessment: “lyric poetry speaks for the first person, in the present tense—a present toward which lyric always impels any past or future events.” Isn’t this the case?

The Roots Essay Human Lyrics

Wallace Stevens prepares us in “Life is not people and scene but thought and feeling.” To be sure, people are a real problem for the lyric poem.Jaynes proposes that epic poetry, early lyric poetry, ritualized singing, the conscience, even the voices of the gods, all are one part of the brain learning to hear, to listen to, the other.I am interested in the progression, then, from those “bicameral” Greek poets to the present.It is thus dangerous to assume a too-similar relationship between those ancient lyrics and ours.Schmidt reminds us that Yeats says lyric poems are overheard, not heard. A fascinating difference between the Greek lyricists and ourselves derives from the entity we label “the self.” How did the self come to be? I want to press on with this proposition for a moment before I turn my attention more fully to another part of the title. Our symposium is entitled “Lyric Poetry and the Problem of People.” My list, of course, denotes the problem, some of the problems, people.This attitude dissolves the self into the social collective. I am aware that my own selfhood, let alone the self voicing my poems, is not a clear and simple unit separate from everything else in the world.” I agree, too.Likewise, Anthony Easthope disperses the genre of lyric poetry into the overall category of discourse; hence, all exchanges engage equally in “a process of enunciation.” The poet’s presence—and the anthropomorphic trope of the poet’s “voice”—is hereby recuperated into a symptomatic of ideologies, power struggles, and destabilized structures. I know I am, as Whitman says, “part and whole.” I am no more independent from the water and wind of the world than a hair is parcel of the independent from my head. Note how Finch begins her next paragraph: “When I was a child, my family would spend several months a year in an isolated cabin in the Maine woods without car, phone, radio, tv, or even electric light.” And on she goes, in a complex study of Cartesian logic, Buddhist selflessness, and subjectivity, to destabilize that “Romantic poetic construct of the fixed, central self.” And she undertakes her study, persistently, in the first-person singular. Of course it is a vexed, changing, elusive, and fictive—a linguistic—construct. We make the world when we say it, and it’s the only world we have. In our own investigations of three primary lyric modes, we have previously considered the love poem (and the problems of passion, heartbreak, betrayal), the elegy (and the problems of death and loss or forgetting), and the ode (and the problems of social rhetoric and lyric progression). The problems with people have provided poets with their subjects for millennia.

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