Tag Archives: lyric poetry

Very Similar Unique Ideas

I will be honest and say that most of this reading went completely over my head. Maybe I was just tired and therefore incapable of comprehending what it was that I was reading, or maybe I could be wide awake and still not understand what was going on. In any case, I think that at one point Adorno was saying that the universality of poetry comes from writing about something that has not already been written.

This relates to Shelley in that Shelley believed the very inception of poetry in one’s mind was where the real poetry was. So Adorno (from my understanding) believes that poetry’s universality comes from something written for the first time, so it therefore applies to everyone since there is nothing out there like that particular poem yet; and Shelley believes poetry is the initial original thought, and once it’s written it is less poetic. They both seem to think that as long as the poem is truly original and unique, then it is true poetry. (But I could be totally wrong.)

Since both their ideas seem so similar to each other…would their ideas count as poetry? Or would only whoever wrote their idea of poetry down first be considered the poet?

 

Adorno, Theodor W. “On Lyric Poetry and Society.” Notes to Literature. Ed. Rolf Tiedemann. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. 46. Print.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “A Defence of Poetry” The Critical Tradition. Ed. David Richter. New York: Bedford/St. Martin, 2007. 358. Print.

Adorno, Shelley, and Universality

Both Adorno and Shelley play with the concept of there being a universality in poetry where a poet is able to represent these sort of opposing forces without explicitly defending one force or the other. However in Adorno’s case, he argues that it is possible for lyric poetry to be more compelling for one side even when its inverse is being spoken for or supported. He uses examples from Baudelaire’s works, such as a poem about a servant woman, to show how works of literature can speak more profoundly or truer to its unintended audience than to the actual subject of the work. To reiterate this, Adorno writes that “when individual expression. . . seems shaken to its very core in the crisis of the individual, the collective undercurrent in the lyric surfaces in the most diverse places” (46). While it may appear that a poet is emphasizing one particular part of life, he is actually  inviting the reader to absorb his words more deeply to see that he is trying to communicate a larger social statement. It isn’t what’s in the lyric poems, it’s what has been purposefully left out. In Shelley’s explanation, “[poet’s] exertions are of the highest value so long as they confine their administration of the concerns of the inferior powers of our nature within the limits due to the superior ones” (358). Due to the restrictions of the “superior” forces at work, a great poet structures his writing so that the “inferior concerns” are implicitly addressed. Although it may not be obviously stated or although it may seem as though he is appealing only to the superior, the poet has the unique ability to subscribe to both.

 

 

 

Adorno, Theodor W. “On Lyric Poetry and Society.” Notes to Literature. Ed. Rolf Tiedemann. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. 46. Print.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “A Defence of Poetry” The Critical Tradition. Ed. David Richter. New York: Bedford/St. Martin, 2007. 358. Print.