The concept of lyric is a central component of Paul de Man’s theory of poetry. In several papers but first of all in his „Anthropomorphism and Trope in the Lyric” he developed a coherent understanding of the lyric as an act of modernism. Its epistemological character was given through Nietzsche’s often quoted statement on the metaphorical, anthropological and performative nature of subjective language and language use. The development of these ideas, however, took place through a detailed text-interpretation of two Baudelaire poems that served as metapoetical definitions of different poetical stances. It is possible that the idea of the lyric and reading lyric defined through anthropomorphism and phenomenality refers to, can be read like an elaborated epistemology of modern, subjective textuality too.
The connection between the concepts of “rhythm” and “interpretation” or “meaning” in literary (lyrical) theory can be received as a mere paradox. The concept of rhythm and metre had a very important, functional role in the theories of structuralism and structural semiotics. These paradigms of literary theory provided very precise, sometimes numerically detailed descriptions of metre, or a rhythm of a poem, however without taking into consideration the problem of interpretation. From the other side, hermeneutic approaches sometimes mention the “phenomenon” of rhythm, all the same do not realize text-analysis, so cannot connect the problem of the rhythm of a concrete text with the general questions of text-interpretation. Finally, the deconstructive strategies of text-interpretation and text-analysis rather don’t pay attention on the rhythm of a lyrical work. Nevertheless, there are some xx-th century theories which are based on the creative function of language and the semantic interpretation of rhythm, especially the rhythm in a verse or a poem. The paper examines four semantic theories of rhythm: suggestions of Juri Tinanov, I. A. Richards, Émile Benveniste and Henri Meschonnic.
At the Intersection of Organic, Cycle, and Themeless Poetry
I suggest a reconsidered approach to a certain group of poems in my paper through reinterpreting Attila József’s “Consciousness”, a poem of twelve numbered stanzas without titles. In my opinion such poems cannot be satisfactorily described as either organic poems or cycles. My proposition is that this kind of poetry is worth approaching from the angle of the tradition of the (avant-garde) themeless poetry.
Lyrical subjectivity is often thought of as the manifestation or self-expression of real, empirical personhood. The concept of “lyrical self” has since long served as a means to distinguish between lyrical subject, considered as a poetic form and the empirical person of the author. The theoretical presuppositions behind this concept seem, however, to blur the line of separation between the two. The paper proposes a reconsideration of the issue by drawing the attention to the discursive and material techniques of recording the empirical subject in poetic texts. In the first part, it discusses Rilke’s lyrical epitaph and one of Charles Olson’s Maximus poems, and confronts the conclusions with the theoretical concept of lyrical self as elaborated in German Geistesgeschichte. In the second part, it outlines a case study on the reception of the Hungarian poet Attila József with special respect to those phenomena (traces of a lyrical autobiography, appearances of the author’s name in the poems, references to the author’s body) which at first sight seem to be records of the empirical subject in the poetic text.
The inherence of textuality and meaning in the relation of the voice and the reading in the lyrical discourse appears with a special intensity. In the romantic poetry the materialisation of language into pure signals is presented as the threat of the speech with the termination of the co-existence of writing and voicing. The modern poetry tries to bridge this fracture, makes huge efforts for the co-operation between message and channels of the transmission. The echo is that romantic motif and rhyme technical method, which first brings to scene the difference between voice and speaker. It makes the words hearable in such a manner that their direct source is already not the subject of the language. For example E. A. Poe’s poem (The Raven) implements a „materializing” process, consequently the immateriality of the memory may be incarnated in the voice of speaker, and in the heard and loudly repeated pronoun („nevermore”). This metamorphosis manifests the hidden, authentic meaningful capability of language, that was considered until then as only a denoting-semiotic structure. This way the romanticism ties the signs of the paper sheet and their sounding to the immateriality of human voice and seems to have been unavoidable until our days as regards the poetic existence of language.