Keats and Lyricism Pt. 3


Lyricism and what I call “deep noir” in Apparition Poems— the lyrical impulse here is divested of attachment to conventional (parochial, in retrospect) prosody (the term for my melopoeiac modus operandi is “clustering,” in which rhymes, near rhymes, assonances, alliterations, anaphora, and other devices occur at regularly irregular intervals). Also, the momentary or arbitrary is subsumed beneath fixed ontological concerns— “the enchantment of multiple meanings,” creating an epic effect (within the context of an “epic of fragments”) more than a lyrical one. Yet, what the Apparition Poems (including the Cheltenham Elegies) have in common with Keats’ Odal Cycle is what might be called (this works generally for major lyric poetry too) a compression or “compressionist” impulse, so that the maximum amount of textual data congeals into solidity in the most confined possible textual space. My early Aughts attempt at employing the Keats odal form itself, On Love, mines similar terrain.  The talent to compress is the poet’s luck over the novelist’s or the philosopher’s. The advantage of compressed texts, compressed discourse (or, as in Space Between, compressed matrixes): maximum density of signifiers creates an intense phantasmagoric effect, in and of itself— like watching a good film, or fireworks— a simulacrum, more than the prosaic, of the rigors of sexual intercourse (not just Barthesian pleasure following a “cruise” but ecstasy, and ecstasy in the pre-twentieth century dual sense, jubilance and jumping out of one’s skin). Keats’ inclusion of the arbitrary, indicative of what he chooses to celebrate (make Odal), reaches into an ontological space where only by dint of native genius can poetic sound and sense reach a satisfying apogee— thus, the Romanticism of genius narratives and mythologies around literature are true for Keats, and a genius for the arbitrary, its serendipitous manifestation, is exceedingly rare. The sui generis quality of the Odes has remained unchallenged for two centuries. I also extend the purview of my investigation of the Odal Cycle to encompass Taoism and awareness of the Tao— a self-subsistent mode of being (here made textual), arbitrary, serendipitous.

Through the investigation of lyricism, the collusion of any text (or “textuality”) with notions of serendipity, textual elements magically falling into place to form coherent gestalt wholes— any time a text or discourse is not completely planned (which is every time), elements of chance force themselves on the human mind, so that what manifests, when it is substantial, mirrors the lyrical (or lyricism), either as a subtext or as a reference point. Working with fixed concerns, and attempting the imposition of intellectual discipline, a certain safeguard against lyricism is set in place (against adolescence, Romance), but when the spirit of lyricism makes the text or discourse refulgent, the writer(s) become memorable, evince the Romanticism of human warmth, and the memorable. What makes any text memorable is not necessarily arbitrary, but its manifestation must remain arbitrary (serendipitous) until a precise science of writing is developed which can reify specific textual formulas. In this sense, Keats and lyricism signify everything we still do not know about textuality— as we divine for its essence at one point, discard it at another; and lyricism-ontology, as a final mystery, beckons from a realm as surely Other, regarding language and the mind, as any floating in our cosmos.