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lyric

lyric, in ancient Greece, a poem accompanied by a musical instrument, usually a lyre. Although the word is still often used to refer to the songlike quality in poetry, it is more generally used to refer to any short poem that expresses a personal emotion, be it a sonnet, ode, song, or elegy. In early Greek poetry a distinction was made between the choral song and the monody sung by an individual. The monody was developed by Sappho and Alcaeus in the 6th cent. BC, the choral lyric by Pindar later. Latin lyrics were written in the 1st cent. BC by Catullus and Horace. In the Middle Ages the lyric form was common in Christian hymns, in folk songs, and in the songs of troubadours. In the Renaissance and later, lyric poetry achieved its most finished form in the sonnets of Petrarch, Shakespeare, Spencer, and Sidney and in the short poems of Ronsard, Ben Jonson, John Donne, Herrick, and Milton. The romantic poets emphasized the expression of personal emotion and wrote innumerable lyrics. Among the best are those of Robert Burns, Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Lamartine, Hugo, Goethe, Heine, and Leopardi. American lyric poets of the 19th cent. include Emerson, Whitman, Longfellow, Lanier, and Emily Dickinson. Among lyric poets of the 20th cent. are W. B. Yeats, A. E. Housman, Rainer Maria Rilke, Federico García Lorca, W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Wallace Stevens, Elinor Wylie, Dylan Thomas, and Robert Lowell.

See J. M. Cohen, The Baroque Lyric (1963); C. D. Lewis, The Lyric Impulse (1965); J. Erskine, The Elizabethan Lyric (1967); P. Dronke, The Medieval Lyric (1968).

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lyric

lyric. (1) Strictly, vocal perf. with lyre; hence lyric drama = opera of all kinds (Fr. drame lyrique), lyric stage = operatic stage. (2) Short poem, not epic or narrative; composers such as Grieg adapted this meaning to mus., e.g. Lyric Piece, Lyric Suite. (3) Vocal description, e.g. lyric tenor, lyric soprano, somewhere between ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ vocal weight, capable of sustaining long flowing lines. (4) The words of a song in a ‘musical’ or of a popular 20th-cent. song.

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lyric

lyr·ic / ˈlirik/ • adj. 1. (of poetry) expressing the writer's emotions, usually briefly and in stanzas or recognized forms. ∎  (of a poet) writing in this manner. 2. (of a singing voice) using a light register: a lyric soprano with a light, clear timbre. • n. (usu. lyrics) 1. a lyric poem or verse. ∎  lyric poetry as a literary genre. 2. the words of a song: she has published both music and lyrics for a number of songs.

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lyric

lyricAmharic, barbaric, Garrick, Pindaric, samsaric •fabric • cambric • Aelfric • chivalric •geriatric, paediatric (US pediatric), Patrick, psychiatric, theatric •tantric •epigastric, gastric •alphanumeric, atmospheric, chimeric, cleric, climacteric, congeneric, Derek, derrick, Eric, esoteric, exoteric, ferric, generic, hemispheric, Herrick, Homeric, hysteric, mesmeric, numeric, skerrick, spheric, stratospheric •red-brick • Cedric •calendric, Kendrick •anthropometric, asymmetric, diametric, geometric, isometric, kilometric, metric, obstetric, psychometric, pyrometric, sociometric •electric, hydroelectric, photoelectric •androcentric, centric, concentric, eccentric, egocentric, ethnocentric, Eurocentric, geocentric, phallocentric, theocentric •airbrick • hayrick • Friedrich •Dietrich •empiric, lyric, panegyric, Pyrrhic, satiric, satyric, vampiric •pinprick • citric • oneiric • hydric •nitric •aleatoric, allegoric, anaphoric, camphoric, categoric, choric, Doric, euphoric, historic, metaphoric, meteoric, phantasmagoric, phosphoric, pyrophoric, semaphoric, sophomoric, theophoric, Warwick, Yorick •con trick •auric, boric, folkloric •Kubrick, rubric •Ugric • Cymric • xeric • firebrick •Rurik, sulphuric (US sulfuric), telluric, Zürich •Frederick • Roderick • undertrick •agaric • Alaric • choleric • limerick •turmeric •archbishopric, bishopric •rhetoric • maverick • overtrick •Masaryk

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Lyric

Lyric

Source

Alcman and Others. Lyric or sung poetry (the term does not include epic, which was not sung in the historical period at least) goes back well beyond the earliest records of the Greek world. Already Homer mentions choral song several times, and the occasions to which he ascribes these, such as funerals and weddings, continued to provide major opportunities for the formal performance of song in more literate ages. Perhaps the first lyric poet the reader can name is Alcman, a Spartan of the seventh century b.c.e., whose fragmentary work contains several Partheneia, or songs for choruses of maidens. Around the end of that century lived Sappho and Alcaeus on Lesbos, but their work was chiefly monodic rather than choral. The spread of Hellenism also produced contemporary lyric in the West: Stesichorus worked in Himera and composed a famous

Palinode, or retraction-song, in which (supposedly after being blinded after one poem) he apologized to the deified Helen and claimed that she never went to Troy (his sight was then restored). Ibycus, a generation or two later, also had a western origin but moved from his native Rhegium to the court of the tyrant Polycrates in Samos, where Ana-creon of Teos also worked. The first half of the fifth century b.c.e. was the final flush of lyric poetry in its own right: during this time were active the two best preserved lyric poets, Bacchylides of Ceos and Pindar, both of whom wrote choral lyric, especially victory odes for the successful in the Pan-Hellenic games. Lyric lingered on past the end of that century, particularly in the form of the dithyramb, narrative choral lyric that formed part of the City Dionysia drama festival in Athens. However, these seem to have been events valued chiefly for their music and display rather than their poetry, and by this time tragedy, originally a derivative of dithyramb according to Aristotle, was giving every opportunity for lyric expression in its choral odes.

Source

David A. Campbell, The Golden Lyre: The Themes of the Greek Lyric Poets (London: Duckworth, 1983).

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