Keats and Lyricism Pt. 2

Lyricism’s hinge to adolescence, and the Dionysian— I have the Dionysian ranked as a Secondary Mode on the Purification Chain, for the same reason that the “fixed” must take its place as a Primary Mode over the mutable— an ethos around the aesthetic, whether inhering in the text directly or indirectly, must supersede, in its formal structure (scaffolding, image arrangements as on the Grecian Urn), what is included in momentary instances/impulses to destabilize, abrade, propel the text further towards more inductive leaps, melopoeiac crescendos; and fixed textual ethos manifests the rigors of Apollonian order/gestalt form reification. Yet, to evacuate chance/the momentary from textual creation (or maintenance, even) is to deny a Secondary Mode, which has the capacity to purify Apollonian impulses of the cumbrous formal hegemony which engenders textual dullness/reification of signifiers into stasis: Keats returns. As to the rigors of ontological inquiry versus the rigors of melopoeia on the Purification Chain— if ontology is a Primary Mode to lyricism’s Secondary, it is because serious ontological inquiry in creative or discursive texts has a manner/mode of destabilizing itself, towards its own expectation horizon of the Dionysian— where the essential Otherness of the Other manifests, jarring maintained perspectives of singularity and subjectivity. Keats’ Achilles’ heel, in the Odal Cycle— reliance on melopoeia, melopoeiac forms (technical/tactile form, in other words, against intellectual gestalt form) renders experiences of Otherness (nightingales, autumns, Grecian Urns) clipped, unduly bounded (again, interstitially complicated by prosody’s war with intellection), and the resultant crescendos are redolent (often) of mere sensibility and not, for the most part, of understanding and reason. Keats’ “high requiem” is for this blindness, for his own lyrical impulse to cast off intellectual discipline.

Keats, lyricism, and what I call Space Between— what manifests as the momentary in the Odes, lurks as a subterranean passageway along an ontological vista of consciousness not only prioritizing a certain form/manner of Otherness, and Otherness attaining importance, but of identification of/with the Other, and Otherness, with the self, so that the self is (textually and otherwise) Other (“I is another” said Rimbaud), and thus loses its essence so as to extend its notions of being past the strictures of the Apollonian. Different minds, ideologies may judge this transformation as an adolescent anomaly or not— as the abstractions added by melopoeiac considerations invite the same judgment. Employing the constraints of my definition of Space Between, the balancing edge or link of Keats’ lyricism, wherein he discovers the gestalt form of a certain textual self, stands at/with the virgin/virginal freshness of allowing the momentary a substantial modicum of unrestricted access, and the sense of the intellectual access of chance/the momentary is representative of lyricism as a generic construct in general, against the epic, the meta-poem, the elegy, and poetry (such as blank verse) meant to serve larger forms (perhaps hybrids with prose, perhaps not), larger ends. As a perceived avant-garde apotheosis of the lyric, the Odes embody a strange command of their own dynamics, and the off-centered quality of their ontological quirks kick back at the notion of their own obsolescence.

Yet, the singularity of Keats’ Odes in the canon of English language poetry is problematic— because ontology, and Space Between, can dismiss so much of Romanticism’s naïve self-schemas and conceptions, the Odes’ resilience and form/manner of shape-shifting confound even a minor dismissal. The challenge of chance, and the momentary, to a consciousness invested in ontological incisiveness, against states of half-being towards Space Between more defined, more fulsome, more grounded in intellectual command of boundaries (boundary dissolution, sometimes), is substantial and worthwhile, but mysterious and uncanny, like the raw lyricism of the Odes themselves. The Odes eternally invite us to participate in the arbitrary.