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It is thus dangerous to assume a too-similar relationship between those ancient lyrics and ours.
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.
This is consistent with Bloom’s notion of the lyric’s function: to enlarge a solitary existence.
Emerson identifies this version of the self in its most pure and central state: “I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me.” Sometimes we think of the self as a more fluid or deconstructed thing: an artifice formed by convenience and language, a social construct, a fiction.
Critics have suggested that in melic poetry we find a point of departure for the first-person subjective lyric; Sappho’s apparently intimate perspective, for instance, often marks the origin of the personal lyric.
But, Schmidt points out, this overlooks three significant things: the entirely public context for which melic poems were composed, the necessity of instrumental accompaniment, and the fact that the emotions and the “personal” elements were “shared” by the symposium participants.I wish to consider the center of both the social and lyric cosmos: the self, that conscious or self-conscious entity speaking from the singular and personal present.If a lyric poem is a song of oneself, what that self? Has the lyric poem always extended outward from the center of the solitary self to the “others”? Sometimes we hold that the self is an autonomous and independent entity, a body and a psyche of measurable dimensions, the fixed hub around which our perceptions and relationships orbit. 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).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.These, too, are intended for public recital and performance, as Schmidt notes, are hortatory in nature, and often are not lamenting or memorial but erotic.Only much later does the rhetoric of the dirge overtake the metrical origin of the elegy, thus shifting the term from a formal to a thematic designation. 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.