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[Lyrical Poetry]

 

LYRICAL POETRY, a general term for all poetry which is, or can be supposed to be, susceptible of being sung to the accompaniment of a musical instrument. In the earliest times it may be said that all poetry was of its essence lyrical. The primeval oracles were chanted in verse, and the Orphic and Bacchic Mysteries, which were celebrated at Eleusis and elsewhere, combined, it is certain, metre with music. Homer and Hesiod are each of them represented with a lyre, yet if any poetry can be described as non-lyrical, it is surely the archaic hexameter of the Iliad and the Erga. These poems were styled epic, in direct contradistinction to the lyric of Pindar and Bacchylides. But inexactly, since it is plain that they were recited, with a plain accompaniment on a stringed instrument. However, the distinction between epical and lyrical, between τὰ ἔπη , what was said, and τὰ μέλη , what was sung, is accepted, and neither Homer nor Hesiod is among the lyrists. This distinction, however, is often without a difference, as for example, in the case of the so-called Hymns of Homer, epical in form but wholly lyrical in character. Hegel, who has gone minutely into this question in his Esthetik, contends that when poetry is objective it is epical, and when it is subjective it is lyrical. This is to ignore the metrical form of the poem, and to deal with its character only. It would constrain us to regard Wordsworth's Excursion as a lyric, and Tennyson's Revenge (where the subject is treated exactly as one of the Homeridae would have treated an Ionian myth) as an epic. This is impossible, and recalls us to the importance of taking the form into consideration. But, with this warning, the definition of Hegel is valuable. It is, as he insists, the personal thought, or passion, or inspiration, which gives its character to lyrical poetry.

The lyric has the function of revealing, in terms of pure art, the secrets of the inner life, its hopes, its fantastic joys, its sorrows, its delirium. It is easier to exclude the dramatic species from lyric than to banish the epic. There are large sections of drama which it is inconceivable should be set to music, or sung, or even given in recitative. The tragedies of Racine, for example, are composed of the purest poetry, but they are essentially non-lyrical, although lyrical portions are here and there attached to them. The intensity of feeling and the melody of verse in Othello does not make that work an example of lyrical poetry, and this is even more acutely true of Le Misanthrope, which is, nevertheless, a poem. The tendency of modern drama is to divide itself further and further from lyric, but in early ages the two kinds were indissoluble. Tragedy was goat-song, and the earliest specimens of it were mainly composed of choruses. As Prof. G. G. Murray says, in the Suppliants of Aeschylus, the characters "are singing for two-thirds of the play," accompanied by tumultuous music. This primitive feature has gradually been worn away; the chorus grew less and less prominent, and disappeared; the very verse-ornament of drama tends to vanish, and we have plays essentially so poetical as those of Ibsen and Maeterlinck written from end to end in bare prose.

To return again to Greece, there was an early distinction, soon accentuated, between the poetry chanted by a choir of singers, and the song which expressed the sentiments of a single poet. The latter, the μέλος or song proper, had reached a height of technical perfection in "the Isles of Greece, where burning Sappho loved and sung," as early as the 7th century B.C. That poetess, and her contemporary Alcaeus, divide the laurels of the pure Greek song of Dorian inspiration. By their side, and later, flourished the great poets who set words to music for choirs, Alcman, Arion, Stesichorus, Simonides and Ibycus, who lead us [181] at the close of the 5th century to Bacchylides and Pindar, in whom the magnificent tradition of the dithyrambic odes reached its highest splendour of development. The practice of Pindar and Sappho, we may say, has directed the course of lyrical poetry ever since, and will, unquestionably, continue to do so. They discovered how, with the maximum of art, to pour forth strains of personal magic and music, whether in a public or a private way. The ecstasy, the uplifted magnificence, of lyrical poetry could go no higher than it did in the unmatched harmonies of these old Greek poets, but it could fill a much wider field and be expressed with vastly greater variety. It did so in their own age. The gnomic verses of Theognis were certainly sung; so were the satires of Archilochus and the romantic reveries of Mimnermus.

At the Renaissance, when the traditions of ancient life were taken up eagerly, and hastily comprehended, it was thought proper to divide poetry into a diversity of classes. The earliest English critic who enters into a discussion of the laws of prosody, William Webbe, lays it down, in 1586, that in verse "the most usual kinds are four, the heroic, elegiac, iambic and lyric." Similar confusion of terms was common among the critics of the 15th and 16th centuries, and led to considerable error. It is plain that a border ballad is heroic, and may yet be lyrical; here the word "heroic" stands for "epic." It is plain that whether a poem is lyrical or not had nothing to do with the question whether it is composed in an iambic measure. Finally, it is undoubted that the early Greek "elegies" were sung to an accompaniment on the flute, whether they were warlike, like those of Tyrtaeus, or philosophical and amatory like those of Theognis. But (see ELEGY) the present significance of "elegy," and this has been the case ever since late classical times, is funereal; in modern parlance an elegy is a dirge. Whether the great Alexandrian dirges, like those of Bion and of Moschus, on which our elegiacal tradition is founded, were actually sung to an accompaniment or not may be doubted; they seem too long, too elaborate, and too ornate for that. But, at any rate, they were composed on the convention that they would be sung, and it is conceivable that music might have been wedded to the most complex of these Alexandrian elegies. Accordingly, although Lycidas and Adonais are not habitually "set to music," there is no reason why they should not be so set, and their rounded and limited although extensive form links them with the song, not with the epic. There are many odes of Swinburne's for which it would be more difficult to write music than for his Ave atque Vale. In fact, in spite of its solemn and lugubrious regularity, the formal elegy or dirge is no more nor less than an ode, and is therefore entirely lyrical.

More difficulty is met with in the case of the sonnet, for although no piece of verse, when it is inspired by subjective passion, fits more closely with Hegel's definition of what lyrical poetry should be, yet the rhythmical complication of the sonnet, and its rigorous uniformity, seem particularly ill-fitted to interpretation on a lyre. When F. M. degli Azzi put the book of Genesis (1700) into sonnets, and Isaac de Benserade the Metamorphoses of Ovid (1676) into rondeaux, these eccentric and laborious versifiers produced what was epical rather than lyrical poetry, if poetry it was at all. But the sonnet as Shakespeare, Wordsworth and even Petrarch used it was a cry from the heart, a subjective confession, and although there is perhaps no evidence that a sonnet was ever set to music with success, yet there is no reason why that might not be done without destroying its sonnet-character.

Jouffroy was perhaps the first aesthetician to see quite clearly that lyrical poetry is, really, nothing more than another name for poetry itself, that it includes all the personal and enthusiastic part of what lives and breathes in the art of verse, so that the divisions of pedantic criticism are of no real avail to us in its consideration. We recognize a narrative or epical poetry; we recognize drama; in both of these, when the individual inspiration is strong, there is much that trembles on the verge of the lyrical. But outside what is pure epic and pure drama, all, or almost all, is lyrical. We say almost all, because the difficulty arises of knowing where to place descriptive and didactic poetry. The Seasons of Thomson, for instance, a poem of high merit and lasting importance in the history of literature – where is that to be placed? What is to be said of the Essay on Man? In primitive times, the former would have been classed under epic, the second would have been composed in the supple iambic trimeter which so closely resembled daily speech, and would not have been sharply distinguished from prose. Perhaps this classification would still serve, were it not for the element of versification, which makes a sharp line of demarcation between poetic art and prose. This complexity of form, rhythmical and stanzaic, takes much of the place which was taken in antiquity by such music as Terpander is supposed to have supplied. In a perfect lyric by a modern writer the instrument is the metrical form, to which the words have to adapt themselves. There is perhaps no writer who has ever lived in whose work this phenomenon may be more fruitfully studied than it may be in the songs and lyrics of Shelley. The temper of such pieces as "Arethusa" and "The Cloud" is indicated by a form hardly more ambitious than a guitar; Hellas is full of passages which suggest the harp; in his songs Shelley touches the lute or viol de gamba, while in the great odes to the "West Wind" and to "Liberty" we listen to a verse-form which reminds us by its volume of the organ itself. On the whole subject of the nature of lyric poetry no commentary can be more useful to the student than an examination of the lyrics of Shelley in relation to those of the songwriters of ancient Greece.

See Hegel, Die Phänomenologie des Geistes (1807); T. S. Jouffroy, Cours d'esthétique (1843); W. Christ, Metrik der Griechen und Römer, 2te. Aufl. (1879).

 

 

 

 

Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

The Encyclopædia Britannica.
A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information.
Eleventh Edition.
Volume XVII. Cambridge, England; New York, NY: [Cambridge] University Press 1911, S. 180-181.

Gezeichnet: E. G. (= Edmund Gosse).

URL: https://archive.org/details/encyclopaediabri17chisrich

Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).
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The Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh Edition)   online
URL: https://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/metabook?id=britannica11
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007910230
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001461821

 

 

Enzyklopädien-Repertorien

 

 

 

Werkverzeichnis: Gosse


Verzeichnis

Thwaite, Ann: Edmund Gosse. A Literary Landscape 1849-1928.
London: Secker and Warburg 1984.
S. 513-517: Bibliography ("of first seperate editions only").



Gosse, Edmund: The Poems of Edgar Poe.
In: The Examiner.
1875, 30. Januar, S. 137-138.

Gosse, Edmund: {Rezension zu:]
Les Poésies de Catulle Mendès (Paris: Sandoz et Fischbacher).
In: The Academy. A Weekly Review of Literature, Science, and Art.
1877, 16. Juni, S. 526-527.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/006791517

Gosse, Edmund: A Plea for certain Exotic Forms of Verse.
In: The Cornhill Magazine.
Bd. 36, 1877, Juli, S. 53-71.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000522322

Gosse, Edmund: [Rezension zu:]
Gérard de Nerval, Poésies complètes (Paris: Calmann Lévy 1877).
In: The Academy. A Weekly Review of Literature, Science, and Art.
1878, 2. März, S. 180-181.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/006791517

Gosse, Edmund: Is Verse in Danger?
In: The Forum.
1891, January, S. 517-526.
URL: http://www.unz.com/print/Forum/

Gosse, Edmund: Questions at Issue.
London: Heinemann 1893.
URL: https://archive.org/details/questionsatissu00gossgoog
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000392854

Gosse, Edmund: Stéphane Mallarmé
In: The Academy. A Weekly Review of Literature, Science, and Art.
Bd. 43, 1893, Nr. 1079, 7. Januar, S. 5-7. [PDF]
Mit Änderungen aufgenommen in
Edmund Gosse: Questions at Issue.
London: Heinemann 1893; hier S. 217-234 (u.d.T. "Symbolism and M. Stéphane Mallarmé").
URL: https://archive.org/details/questionsatissu00gossgoog
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000392854

Gosse, Edmund: Christina Rossetti.
In: The Century Magazine.
Bd. 46, 1893, Juni, S. 211-217.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/012508493
URL: https://www.unz.com/print/Century

Gosse, Edmund: A Note on Walt Whitman.
In: The New Review.
Bd. 10, 1894, Nr. 59, April, S. 447-457.
wiederholt in
The Living Age.
1894, 26. Mai, S. 495-501.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011827682

Gosse, Edmund: Walter Pater: a Portrait.
In: The Contemporary Review.
Bd. 66, 1894, Dezember, S. 795-810. [PDF]

Gosse, Edmund: A First Sight of Verlaine.
In: The Savoy. An Illustrated Quarterly.
1896, Nr. 2, April, S. 113-116.
URL: https://archive.org/details/savoy01symo
Mit Änderungen aufgenommen in
Edmund Gosse: French Profiles.
London: Heinemann 1905; hier S. 182-188.
URL: https://archive.org/details/frnchprofiles00gossiala
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007680073

Gosse, Edmund: Current French Literature.
Cosmopolis. Revue internationale.
Bd. 2, 1896, Nr. 6, Juni, S. 660-677.
URL: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb327493131/date

Gosse, Edmund: Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly.
In: The Pageant.
1897, S. 18-31.
URL: http://www.1890s.ca/Default.aspx
Aufgenommen in
Edmund Gosse: French Profiles.
London: Heinemann 1905; hier S. 92-107.

Gosse, Edmund: Current French Literature.
Cosmopolis. Revue internationale.
Bd. 6, 1897, Nr. 18, Juni, S. 637-654.
URL: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb327493131/date

Gosse, Edmund: Ten Years of English Literature.
In: North American Review.
Bd. 165, 1897, Nr. 489, August, S. 138-148.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/004528837
URL: https://www.unz.com/print/NorthAmericanRev/

Gosse, Edmund: Stéphane Mallarmé.
In: The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science, and Art.
Bd. 86, 1898, 17. September, S. 372-373. [PDF]
Mit Änderungen aufgenommen in
Edmund Gosse: French Profiles.
London: Heinemann 1905; hier S. 305-312.
URL: https://archive.org/details/frnchprofiles00gossiala
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007680073

Gosse, Edmund: Some Recent Literature in France.
In: The Contemporary Review.
Bd. 74, 1898, Dezember, S. 890-900.
URL: https://archive.org/details/contemporaryrev14unkngoog

Gosse, Edmund: L'Influence de la France sur la poésie anglaise,
conférence faite le 9 février 1904, à Paris, sur l'invitation de la Société des conférences,
traduite par Henry-D. Davray.
Paris: Société du "Mercure de France" 1904.
URL: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k54430215

Gosse, Edmund: French Profiles.
London: Heinemann 1905.
URL: https://archive.org/details/frnchprofiles00gossiala
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007680073

Gosse, Edmund: The Influence of France upon English Poetry.
In: Edmund Gosse: French Profiles.
London: Heinemann 1905; hier S. 330-363.
URL: https://archive.org/details/frnchprofiles00gossiala
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007680073

Gosse, Edmund: Art. Lyrical Poetry.
In: The Encyclopædia Britannica.
Eleventh Edition. Volume XVII. Cambridge, England; New York, NY 1911, S. 180-181.
URL: https://archive.org/details/encyclopaediabri17chisrich

Gosse, Edmund: French Profiles.
New Edition. London: Heinemann 1913.
URL: https://archive.org/details/frenchprofiles00goss
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001790429

Gosse, Edmund: The Future of English Poetry.
[Oxford: H. Hart, Printer to the Univesity] 1913.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009979369

Gosse, Edmund (Hrsg.): Les Fleurs Du Mal and Other Studies.
By Algernon Charles Swinburne.
London: Printed for Private Circulation 1913.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/002781737

Gosse, Edmund: The Life of Algernon Charles Swinburne.
New York: The Macmillan company 1917.
URL: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.211007
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001112871

Gosse, Edmund: Baudelaire.
In: The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs.
Bd. 31, 1917, Nr. 175, Oktober, S. 131-134. [PDF]

Gosse, Edmund: Mr. Hardy's Lyrical Poems
In: The Edinburgh Review.
Bd. 227, 1918, Nr. 464, April, S. 272–293.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009663369
aufgenommen in
Edmund Gosse: Some Diversions of a Man of Letters.
London: Heinemann 1919; hier: S. 231-258 (u.d.T. "The Lyrical Poetry of Thomas Hardy").
URL: https://archive.org/details/somediversionsof00goss
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000393057

Gosse, Edmund: Some Diversions of a Man of Letters.
London: Heinemann 1919.
URL: https://archive.org/details/somediversionsof00goss
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000393057


Brugmans, Linette F. (Hrsg.): The Correspondence of André Gide and Edmund Gosse, 1904-1928.
Edited, with translations.
London: Owen 1959.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001212533

 

 

 

Literatur

Brandmeyer, Rudolf: Poetiken der Lyrik: Von der Normpoetik zur Autorenpoetik. In: Handbuch Lyrik. Theorie, Analyse, Geschichte. Hrsg. von Dieter Lamping. 2. Aufl. Stuttgart 2016, S. 2-15.

Cook, Jon (Hrsg.): Poetry in Theory. An Anthology 1900 – 2000. Malden, MA u.a. 2004.

Cunningham, Valentine: Darke Conceits: Churton Collins, Edmund Gosse, and the Professions of Criticism. In: Grub Street and the Ivory Tower. Literary Journalism and Literary Scholarship from Fielding to the Internet. Hrsg. von Jeremy Treglown u. Bridget Bennett. Oxford 1998, S. 72-90.

Hancher, Michael: Dictionary vs. Encyclopedia, Then and Now. In: Dictionaries. Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America 40.1 (2019), S. 113-138.

Haß, Ulrike (Hrsg.): Große Lexika und Wörterbücher Europas. Europäische Enzyklopädien und Wörterbücher in historischen Porträts. Berlin u. Boston 2012.

Jackson, Virginia: Art. Lyric. In: The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Hrsg. von Roland Greene u.a. 4. Aufl. Princeton u.a. 2012, S. 826-834.

Kafker, Frank A. / Loveland, Jeff (Hrsg.): The Early Britannica: The Growth of an Outstanding Encyclopedia. Oxford 2009.

Loveland, Jeff: The European Encyclopedia. From 1650 to the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge u. New York 2019.

Mallett, Phillip: Edmund Gosse. In: Nineteenth-Century British Literary Biographers. Hrsg. von Steven Serafin (= Dictionary of Literary Biography, Bd. 144). Detroit, MI 1994, S. 127-146.

O'Neill, Michael (Hrsg.): The Cambridge History of English Poetry. Cambridge u.a. 2010.

Rath, Brigitte: "Our knowledge petrifies our rhymes." Edmund Gosse im Kontext der Institutionalisierung von English Literature. In: Poeta philologus. Eine Schwellenfigur im 19. Jahrhundert. Hrsg. von Mark-Georg Dehrmann u.a. Bern u.a. 2010 (= Publikationen zur Zeitschrift für Germanistik; N.F., 22), S. 195-218.

Spree, Ulrike: Das Streben nach Wissen. Eine vergleichende Gattungsgeschichte der populären Enzyklopädie in Deutschland und Großbritannien im 19. Jahrhundert. Tübingen 2000 (= Communicatio, 24).

Stammen, Theo u.a. (Hrsg.): Wissenssicherung, Wissensordnung und Wissensverarbeitung. Das europäische Modell der Enzyklopädien. Berlin 2004 (= Colloquia Augustana, 18).

Temple, Ruth Z.: The Critic's Alchemy. A Study of the Introduction of French Symbolism into England. New York 1953.
S. 185-228: Edmund Gosse.

Thain, Marion: Victorian lyric pathology and phenomenology. In: The Lyric Poem. Formations and Transformations. Hrsg. von Marion Thain. Cambridge u.a. 2013, S. 156-176.

Thwaite, Ann: Edmund Gosse. A Literary Landscape 1849-1928. London 1984.

 

 

Edition
Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer