The Lyric is the most delightful and pleasing form of poetry. It is generally subjective. Lyric poetry, in its original meaning, was poetry composed to be sung to the accompaniment of a lyre. The lyre was a simple Greek musical instrument. The Greek idea of the lyric suggests its intimate connection with music.
A lyric is defined as a poem that Expresses a single emotion. Over elaboration of emotion results in the loss of effectiveness. So a lyric is generally short. In a lyric the quality of emotion is important. It must embody emotion and it must impress us by the sincerity of its utterance. The language and imagery of a lyric must be characterized by beauty, propriety, and harmony.
Personal poetry touches almost all aspects of experience. As a result, there are various types of lyric poetry such as the love lyric, the lyric of patriotism, the lyrics of religious emotion, the lyric of joy, and so on. The essence of a lyric is the personality of a poet, the majority of the world’s good lyrics express also what is typically human. The reader finds in them the expression of experiences that he can share with the poet. The reader finds this experience in the poetry of Keats, Shelley, and the metaphysical poets like Donne and Marvell
In lyric poetry, the poet is occupied with himself. His thoughts, feelings, and emotions constitute the subject matter of his lyric. The lyric becomes a mirror to his personality. Even the titles of poems are no indication as to their themes. “Ode to a Nightingale” and “An ode to a skylark” are not about birds. In highly composite poetry it is difficult to distinguish between subjective and objective. So it is generally said that the Epic, The ballad and dramatic poetry are objective and lyric is subjective. Some forms of lyrics lead us to meditative and philosophic modes as in them the elements of thought and reflection or dominant.
Another trait of a lyric is its unity. A lyric is self-contained and everything in it it is related to the central idea or emotion. So there is hardly any place for descriptions or elaborations in a lyric. Since the lyric is a unified experience, generally, it is not very long. Edgar Allen Poe said, “a long poem does not exist” this is true of a lyric.
It is difficult to identify the I in a lyric poem. Through the poet express his own emotions and feelings, they are also universal. Thus, Wordsworth Tintern Abbey lines or Milton’s Sonnet on his blindness, express universal emotion. Most of the Elizabethan songs, poems of the metaphysical like Donne and the short poems and the dramatic monologues of Browning and Tennyson come under the category of lyric.
Three parts of Lyric:
Structurally, a lyric can be divided into three parts.
The first is the motive. It states the emotion and comprises the first few lines. The motive is the sudden provocation for the poet to compose. It may be Nightingale’s song as in the case of kids are the song of reaper girl as in the case of Wordsworth. The motive is only an excuse for the poet to express his own emotions and feelings.
The second part of the lyric consists of the poet’s emotions and feelings. These may be termed as statements. In “the ode to the west wind” Shelley muses over evolution. In “The Ode to Nightingale” Keats meditates over the weariness of life and the ease of death.
The third part of the lyric is the conclusion that comes when the emotions subside. It is a conclusion, reflection, or resolution. Keats reflects on beauty at the end of the famous Ode on a Grecian urn” Herrick reflects on the fragility of beauty and power of death towards the close of “To blossoms”.
Much of the beauty of a lyric depends on its expression. So the poet has to choose words and their arrangements with great care. The combination of lines, rhyme scheme, and rhythm are important. Each stanza should correspond to the mood expressed. Smoothness or hardness of the words, slowness or rapidity of the movements, alliteration, rhyme, rhythm, melody, and even some irregularities get hold upon the reader’s imagination and intensify his enjoyment of the lyric. Every lyric poet must be conscious of this fact.