Define Lyric Poems | Origin, History, Types, Classification, Examples and Other Names

Define The Word Lyric Poems: When the poets write any poem which is emotional and rhyming, it is called a lyric poem. Such types of poems are known to explore strong emotions, especially romantic feelings.

How To Write A Lyric Poem?

A lyric poem is a short version of a poem, which has almost songlike e features. The root word of a lyric is a lyre, which is of Greek origin and means “singing to the lyre.” The pronunciation of lyric is done as leeyr-rick. Any lyric poem is easily identified by its musical nature.

Short and high musical verses characterize a lyric poem. They can convey extremely powerful meanings. In a lyrical poem, the poets make use of literary devices like rhyme or meter. These literary devices create a songlike quality within the poem.

The feelings or emotions conveyed through the poem are most likely to be related to the poet himself’s feelings. It is one of the most common poetic forms that are still found today. The most common takeaways of lyric poems are that they convey the speaker’s emotions and are musical.

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

The Origin And History Of Lyricism

The origin of lyricism in poems can be traced to Greek culture. In Greece, it was most often found that lyric poetry was combined with music and was played on lyre. A lyre is a string instrument with a U shape. The works of Sappho (610 to 570 BC) have shown lyricism most often.

In ancient Greece, there was a specific meaning ascribed to lyric poetry. The technical meaning of it was a verse often accompanied by a lyre, barbitos, or cithara.

Similar traits of lyricism were found in other parts of the world too. It was between the fourth century BC and the first century AD that lyricism came to view through the Hebrew poets’ works. These poets composed lyrical psalms, which the people sang in an ancient Jewish style.

During the eighth century, through haiku and various other forms, the Japanese poets expressed their ideals. They often expressed their emotions through lyrical poems too. Among the more famous Chinese writers, Li Po (710 to 762 AD) depicted aspects of lyricism in his work.

There was a shift from their regular epic narratives about gods and war heroes in the western world. This gave rise to lyric poetry in their domain, and in the western world, lyric poetry came with a personal tone and appeal. The poets of Europe drew their inspiration from Greece and also from Egypt or Asia.

Lyric Poetry Types

The most common categories that poetry is put into are three: Narrative, Lyric, and lastly, Dramatic. Lyric poetry is, however, the most common. It is extremely difficult to classify it, yet there is a wide range of approaches to it.

It is difficult to be classified as nearly anything, from war to love, from art to patriotism, that can be easily explored in a personal and emotional tone. Thus there are many approaches to it.

There is also no prescribed form of lyrical poetry. Some sonnets can be considered lyrical poetry, and there are also rondeaus to villanelles that are considered lyrical poetry.

Lyric Poem Classification

Many times scholars tend to categorize lyrical poetry into Lyric of Thought, Lyric of Emotion, and Lyric of Vision. But, this type of categorization is not agreed upon by many scholars.

There can be didactic poems in the Lyric of Thought type, which are usually directed at teaching. It also includes intellectual poems, like satire.

In the Lyric of Vision type, there are visual poetries like May Swenson’s “Women.” There are line arrangements and a zigzag pattern in the poem, which makes it visual. Some other poets have used colors or 3D shapes and even unusual topography for satisfying Lyric of Vision.

In the Lyric of Emotion type, some poems depict emotions and sensations. The works are usually associated with the personification of sentiments and expression of human emotions.

What Is The Reason Behind Writing It?

Lyrical poetry depicts a wide range of things, including emotions, admissions, and even confessions. They have a flowery and flowy language and are simple yet deep at the same time.

So, the simplest reason that poets resort to lyrical poems is that they can easily express their feelings and emotions through them. The audience relates to such poems easily, and it is an effortless way of understanding the nature around us.

Lyric Poems

Examples Of Lyricism In Famous Poems

Example 1: “The Wold Is Too Much With Us” by William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth (1770 to 1850) is a famous name among the English poets. It was the notion of Wordsworth that poetry is a powerful flow of feelings.

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; —

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”

In his poem “The World Is Too Much With Us,” he has clearly expressed his passion, which is clearly illustrated in a few statements like “a sordid boon!”. Wordsworth has condemned materialism and alienation from nature in his poem.

Although the poem depicts the essence of spontaneity, it was also carefully nurtured. In this poem, the poet has clearly expressed his outrage about the Industrial Revolution’s effects on the then economy.

Example 2: “Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander

The poem “Praise Song for the Day” was written by Elizabeth Alexander, a famous American poet. She wrote the poem to be read at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, the first-ever black president.

“Say it plain: that many have died for this day.

Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,

who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built

brick by brick, the glittering edifices

they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.

Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,

the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.”

Through the poem, Alexander paid tribute to the African culture that lay in the US and urged the people belonging to various races to live in peace. Although the poem does not rhyme, its rhythmic repetition of phrases creates a beautiful musical effect.

The poem serves two traditions. One, it is an occasional poem, which was written for a specific purpose, and two, it is a song for praising someone. It depicts the essence of praise for the American president. Occasional poems are quite similar to ode, as they depict passionate expressions of praise.

Example 3: “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas (1914 to 1953) has depicted lyricism through his poem “Do not go gentle into that good night.” He has used a number of literary devices in the poem.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at the close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.”

This poem depicts a son’s plea to his father, who is dying. He wants to explain to his father that death is the ultimate end for all. Nevertheless, they do not give up. They constantly fight for their life. The entire poem seems to be based on the line “Old age should burn and rave at close of day.”

The literary devices like alliteration and repetition of a specific line are continuously done throughout the poem. The rhyme scheme of the poem is simple and consistent, going on at ABC ABC. These features show the characteristic of lyricism throughout the poem.

Example 4: “Dying” penned by Emily Dickinson

Most of the poems by Emily Dickinson (1830 to 1886) depict the essence of lyricism.

“I heard a fly buzz when I died;

The stillness round my form

Was like the stillness in the air

Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry,

And breaths were gathering sure

For that last onset, when the king

Be witnessed in his power.”

The poem “Dying” depicts in the way of its simple rhyme scheme, ABCB. There is also the use of Iambic meter, which is yet another feature of a lyric poem. The poet here speaks about her observations when someone is about to die.

Her poem is hypothetical in nature and expresses her sentiments about death. The poet expresses her detachment from the affairs of the world.

Some Other Popular Lyric Poems

  • “Whose List to Hunt” written by Sir Thomas Wyatt
  • “Upon Julia’s Clothes,” written by Robert Herrick
  • “The Heart Asks Pleasure First” penned by Emily Dickinson
  • “A Quoi bon Dire” by Charlotte Mew
  • “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” penned by William Wordsworth.

Other Names Of Lyricism

There are other terms that often come to describe lyric poems. Some common terms that people might come across are:

  • Musical
  • Emotional
  • Melodious
  • Melody
  • Expression