Keats and Lyricism

As to the lyrical impulse which infuses the Odal Cycle with life: the balance between what is picked up/grasped momentarily by Keats’ consciousness, hewn into the text, and (conversely) a fixed set of concerns which Keats (or any major lyrical poet) projects into the textual realm, consciously or unconsciously, every time he/she writes creatively, especially at crescendo moments of passionate intellection/intellectual passion, is a point of speculative interest for the critic, poet, or scholar, who wishes to grasp how and why inductive sensibility, understanding, and then reason should produce a text of vital interest over a long period of time. It is the balance between the fixed, projected outwards, and the mutable, promiscuously encountering momentary data to reify or unhinge what can remain fixed at the moment of textual initiation and consummation.

In Grecian Urn, as I have previously written, images of virginity (‘unravish’d brides”) are sought out from the fixed part of Keats’ consciousness as he looks at (enters into, both with a phallic sense of textual mastery and a negatively capable sense of identification) the urn. Yet, the avant-gardism of the Odes, their own unending mutability in productive directions/perspectives if viewed continuously, dictates the lesson that levels of irony built into this encounter complicate its straightforward verticality around passionate virginity, and the enchantment virginal states have of verticality in and of themselves, as virginal consciousness graduates towards consummation, once this sense of graduation is frozen into place, made immortal; the negatively capable subject who stands behind the Ode creates a sense of mutability around an audience trying to see into a fixed set of concerns given ambiguous expression, and become negatively capable ourselves. Does he relish virginity-images specifically from a virgin sensibility of his own, or is his fixed concern attempting to balance an injured sense of experience, of consummations (“ravishings”) gone awry, as we create a fruitful (“never can those trees be bare”) chain by entering his consciousness while the Urn enters his own consciousness?

Lyricism’s dance with raw subjectivity means that here, the New Critical commonplace against the desirability of gauging authorial intentionality must move to the back, remain in abeyance. Too much about lyricism depends on a sense of identification between reader, poet, and the text which dares to “play middle.” In the case of my own textual practice, the fixed set of concerns I project onto my texts has more to do with ontology, less to do with the rigors of melopoeia— my crescendos, thus, can never reach the heights of Keats’ Odal Cycle. Yet, the riveting nature of prosody, when balanced correctly with intellection (and Keats’ fixed set of concerns, projected onto his text, certainly involves the interstitial complications around prosody and intellection), is that it is a specific kind of hinge towards a sense of abandon (into verticality) and mutability (into verticality), and one that, with the twenty-first century and its conventions beginning to consummate themselves in 2014, may or may not be in danger of becoming lost in the ontological, and in hybrid forms. The horizontal, “planed” reach of prose, past the momentary or lyrical, and even forms of poetry for which prosody is not an overriding concern (Apparition Poems and Cheltenham are still involved in this concern, but not as an imperious imperative, the way Keats would have cogitated it) may mean that this form/manner of building textual impetus/direction will exist only as a kind of memory for us, but one fond enough, edgy enough, and wistful enough in its essential Otherness that its presence for us must remain stalwart.