Lyric Relations: Poetic Intersubjectivity in the Long Eighteenth Century Open Access

Holt Matthews, Lauren (2012)

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Abstract: "Lyric Relations: Poetic Intersubjectivity in the Long Eighteenth Century"

"Lyric Relations" considers three distinct moments in the long eighteenth century that critics find puzzling: the amorous lyrics of the Restoration, the verse paraphrases of Psalms, and the congregational hymns that developed in the first half of the eighteenth century. Taken singularly, these instances are fascinating and pose no insurmountable problems for scholars of the period. They simply seem to stand apart from the drama and fiction for which the period is better known, flashes of peculiar lyricality in an age of prose and heroic couplets. When we consider poets like John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester; Elizabeth Singer Rowe; and Isaac Watts alongside one another, however, a new picture of lyricality emerges: a conception of the mode structured by representations of the self and the other rather than by the poem's length or subject matter, by how these lyrics work rather than by how they look, a view of lyricism that acknowledges the ever shifting relationships between reader, poet, and lyric and the ways that we as readers negotiate these subject positions. I refer to this type of highly interactive engagement as lyric intersubjectivity.

From our scholarly perspective, we can consider distinct lyric moments together and explore relationships that poets like Rochester, Rowe, Watts, and others may not have acknowledged or wanted to acknowledge but that reveal a shared lyric dynamic that we do not see if we consider these moments of lyricality thematically or topically. Only after reconsidering the characteristics of the lyric mode do we discover that these three moments actually represent a constellation of eighteenth-century lyricality that is integral to the broader web of British lyricism. While poets from each of these moments in the period obviously worked under different cultural circumstances and had individual goals for and impulses guiding their verse, their poetic endeavors are connected through their reliance upon lyric intersubjectivity. "Lyric Relations" places them into conversation with one another, illuminating the surprising shared structural characteristics that reestablish the vitality of the lyric tradition within the long eighteenth century.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Chapter One: "Their footsteps are scarcely to be traced"...1

Chapter Two: "Thou shalt in me survey thy self reflected": Amorous Intersubjectivity in Philips, Rochester, and Behn...43

Chapter Three: Savior, Self, and Soul: Psalm Translations and the "Personal Lyric"...88

Chapter Four: "Let us our voices raise": Congregational Singing and Intersubjectivity...148


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