What is Lyric?

A lyric is a fairly short poem which is the expression of strong feelings of thoughts or perceptions of a single speaker in a meditative manner. The lyric was originally in Greek poetry; the kind of poem which was to be set to the lyre; hence the word lyric. But even today the word still retains the sense that lyric poems are musical.

In fact the word is also used in music to denote “lines of a song”. The term “lyric” includes any types of poems with the very general qualities of being personal and emotional in expression, being meditative, and being musical: so sonnets, elegies and metaphysical poems, romantic poems and even ballads and odes may be ‘lyrical’. So the word ‘lyric’ is related to expression and not form. Most lyrics are meditation on loneliness by the poet, but lyric can also be dramatic if it is addressed to a specific person. For example, John Donne’s “Canonization” is also a lyric in expression, though it is also dramatic due to its use of ‘monologue’. And though the lyric is spoken by an “I”, it need not be the poet himself: we should understand the lyric in terms of an imaginary speaker or character. Love is a common topic for poems with the lyrical manner of expression, but death and other emotionally engaging subjects can also be the subjects of a lyrical poem. And romantic poems which are personal poems with the spontaneous kind of expression are also usually lyrics. The poem “Break Break Break” is also a typical lyric because it is the personal and emotional expression of the poet’s feelings in the form of a meditation. It is partly dramatic due to its direct address to the cliffs and it is also musical. There are many lyrics like: My Mistress’s Eyes are Nothing..., Canonization, Tyger, I Wonder Lonely as a Cloud, Break Break Break, The Mother, etc. in English literature.

Published on 23 Jan. 2014 by Kedar Nath Sharma

Related Topics

Break Break Break: Analysis

The Canonization: Analysis

Sonnet: Introduction

Ode: Introduction

Elegy: Introduction

Metaphysical Poetry: Introduction