In a supposedly enlightened and disenchanted age, why has lyric poetry continued to make claims and perform gestures that are now otherwise inadmissible or even unimaginable? Animation, invocation, and unmotivated praise, apparently artificially imposed (dis)order, and spurious gnomic and vatic sayings that pretend to universal or transcendent knowledge are marks of the lyric as a genre. Sketching a theory of poetic license, this article addresses the lyrical entanglement of enchantment and embarrassment. The author argues for a concept of the lyric as a medium for regulating the balance between enchantment and disenchantment in an always imbalanced environment. Engaging other scholars and using examples from modern French and German poetry, the article also ventures a new understanding of lyric modernity. Rather than naming a historical event to be lamented, disenchantment unveils a risk inherent to the lyric whose regulatory function it makes explicit.
Toward a Theory of Poetic License: Lyric Enchantment and Embarrassment
Klas Molde received his PhD from Cornell University. He is finishing his first book, Enchantment and Disenchantment in the Lyric, and has previously published articles in English, French, and Swedish on topics ranging from ancient tragedy to modern opera. His article “Rilke’s Lyric Lies” (2018) appeared in Comparative Literature.
Klas Molde; Toward a Theory of Poetic License: Lyric Enchantment and Embarrassment. Poetics Today 1 December 2020; 41 (4): 561–593. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-8720071
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