Lyric Poetry

Definition – Examples – How to Write

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Hello Lovelies, and welcome back to the blog. Today is the last day that we’re talking about the second Pillar of Genre. Let’s talk about Poetry.

How do you define what Poetry even is? Would you say that it has a meter or cadence? That it has to rhyme and have multiple verses? That it has to take a specific form? All of those things may be aspects of poetry, and yet poems exist that could also be said to have none of those qualities. Today we are going to go into Lyric Poetry, so let’s talk about it.

Lyric Poetry Definition

Lyric poetry is, perhaps, the most distinctive of all the poetic styles. While you may have heard the word lyric and thought that this must refer to music, you would have only been half correct. Lyric poetry is a style that has lyrical, almost sing-song qualities, and was born out of the Greek tradition and set to a stringed instrument called a lyre.  

Lyrical poetry is arguably the most common type of poetry there is as it has evolved and has been modernized the most from its original form. Many things fall under the lyric poetry category because lyric poetry encompasses a wide range of forms and approaches, and lyric poetry is virtually without a prescribed form or style. If it deals with large emotions, or is personal in nature, it is most often going to be a form of lyric poetry. 

Examples

Sonnet XVII by William Shakespeare

Who will believe my verse in time to come,

If it were filled with your most high deserts?

Though yet heaven knows it is but as a tomb

Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts.

If I could write the beauty of your eyes,

And in fresh numbers number all your graces,

The age to come would say ‘This poet lies;

Such heavenly touches ne’er touched earthly faces.’

So should my papers, yellowed with their age,

Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,

And your true rights be termed a poet’s rage

And stretched metre of an antique song:

   But were some child of yours alive that time,

   You should live twice, in it, and in my rhyme.

Ode to the Sun by Eloise Bibb Thompson

How many scenes, O sun,

Hast thou not shone upon!

How many tears, O light,

Have dropped before thy sight!

How many heart-felt sighs,

How many piercing cries,

How many deeds of woe,

Dost thy bright light not know!

How many broken hearts,

That are pierced by sorrow’s darts

How many maddened brains,

That are wild with passion’s rains;

How many soul-sick lives,

Stabbed with despair’s sharp knives,

Hast thou above the skies,

Not seen with thy radiant eyes!

Shine on, majestic one!

Shine on, O glorious sun!

And never fail to cheer

My life so dark and drear.

Whene’er thou shinest bright,

And show thy brilliant light,

The cares I know each day

Silently steal away.

My Butterfly (an Elegy) by Robert Frost

Thine emulous fond flowers are dead, too,

And the daft sun-assaulter, he

That frighted thee so oft, is fled or dead:

Save only me

(Nor is it sad to thee!)

Save only me

There is none left to mourn thee in the fields.

The gray grass is not dappled with the snow;

Its two banks have not shut upon the river;

But it is long ago—

It seems forever—

Since first I saw thee flance,

With all the dazzling other ones,

In airy dalliance,

Precipitate in love,

Tossed, tangled, whirled and whirled above,

Like a limp rose-wreath in a fairy dance.

When that was, the soft mist

Of my regret hung not on all the land,

And I was glad for thee,

And glad for me, I wist.

Thou didst not know, who tottered, wandering on high,

That fate had made thee for the pleasure of the wind,

With those great careless wings,

Nor yet did I.

And there were other things:

It seemed God let thee flutter from his gentle clasp:

Then fearful he had let thee win

Too far beyond him to be gathered in,

Snatched thee, o’er eager, with ungentle grasp.

Ah! I remember me

How once conspiracty was rife

Against my life—

The languor of it and the dreaming fond;

Surging, the grasses dizzied me of thought,

The breeze three odors brought,

And a gem-flower waved in a wand!

Then when I was distraught

And could not speak,

Sidelong, full on my cheek,

What should that reckless zephyr fling

But the wild touch of thy dye-dusty wing!

I found that wing broken to-day!

For thou art dead, I said,

And the strange birds say.

I found it with the withered leaves

Under the eaves.

How to Write Lyric Poetry

Lyric poems are written from the first person’s point of view. This form of poetry does not tell a story portraying characters or actions. This form more than any other revolves around the emotions, perceptions, and state of mind of the poet. Lyric poetry includes subcategories like ode, sonnet, occasional poetry, dramatic monologue, and elegy.

Because lyric poetry revolves around emotions and feelings, you should begin by writing down your feelings. Become more aware of your senses and how they make you feel. Sit with them and allow the words and feelings to radiate within you. Then set them free into your poem.

Next Week

Now that we’ve gone over all the subgenres of poetry, it’s time to go over our third Pillar of Genre. I hope you’ll come back next week excited to find out which one it is. 

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your favorite poetry subgenre?
  2. Do you have a favorite poet or poem?
  3. What genre is your favorite to read in, and do you write in the same genre or a different one?
  4. What is the most important reason writers should be aware of genre and its conventions?
  5. What questions would you like to see me answer in a blog post or podcast episode?

Leave your answers in the comments section for this post!

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