Lyric Poet
Lyric Poetry?

Brief Essays on its Past, Present, and Future by Brent Futo

Copyright Brent Futo 1980-2005.

Home | Lyric Poetry? | Index | Mandi | Vampires | Rebirth | Inspirational | Dark | Erotic | Love | Love 2 | Love 3 | Hate | Romantic | Romantic 2 | Friendship | Societal | Regrets | Biblical | Religious | St Johns | Historical | Curses | Traditional | Humorous | Nature | D/s | Short | Undefined | Non-Lyric | Vows | Proverbs | Audio | FAQ's | Biography | Photos | Links | Awards | Store

Origins of Lyric Poetry

Literally, lyric poetry traces its roots back to ancient Greece where melodic tales of great battles and lost loves were recited publicly, accompanied by the stringed instrument known as the lyre. These singing minstrels, if you will, would travel from city to city spreading their oral histories as well as entertaining the populace. They were, in a sense, the Bon Jovis and Ricky Martins of their day.

Because these recitations were very structured in format and musical or melodic in nature, they were consequently quite easy to commit to memory, enabling them to be passed on to others in the community, and perhaps most importantly, passed on to future generations. Thus, the oral traditions of lyric poetry were born.

Lyric poems continued to evolve up to the era of the nineteenth century romantic poets, eventually losing instrumentation accompaniment, but retaining their emphasis on the characteristics that make them memorable--structure and melody. Perhaps the last and greatest of all the romantic poets, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, created an astounding body of work that entrances and seduces its readers with its subtle, yet intricate, patterns of sound. This is the essence of lyric poetry.

Lyric Poetry Today

The present state of lyric poetry can be defined in only one of two ways: dead or dying. It's not that nobody writes it anymore (for there are surely many who do), but rather that nobody publishes it anymore. And should some publisher be bold enough to do so, nobody will buy it. Just visit the neighborhood book superstore and find literally ten times the available titles on professional wrestling stars as on the greatest traditional poets. Poetry in general is a very non-commercial artform, with traditional and lyrical forms being the least commercial of all.

What then is marketable today? Not much. Even the most widely published poets in the world will scarcely earn a living writing poems. They almost all fall into the category of modern poets, a twentieth century phenomenon that essentially eliminated all the rules to writing poetry, replacing them only with mandates of self-expression and sometimes social conscience. U.S. Poet Laurette Maya Angelou is a wonderful example of a gifted modern poet who speaks for her generation and her ethnic heritage with great insight and emotion, but whose work lacks the structural and lyrical aspects of her predecesors. Will anyone remember Maya Angelou fifty years from now? Of course. Will anyone be able to quote her extensively or recite her works verbatim from memory? I doubt it. Yes, my friends, I'm afraid the King has left the building.

The Future of Lyric Poetry

If there is a future for lyric poetry, it lies in the technology of the internet. For the first time in our history as a people, there is a relatively inexpensive medium with which to expose a non-commercial artform to a large number of people. Sponsored sites, such as this one, make it possible for anyone with the vision and desire and dedication to expose his work to the world without the consequence of financial ruin if he is not a commercial success (which is a given).

Indeed, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Readers may not pay $25 for a volume of poems at and certainly will not charge $19.95 per month on their Visa cards to join a poetry club, but they might just take a free peek every now and then at a site containing lyric poetry, and maybe--just maybe, they'll like it. If fate is truly kind, perhaps some will even pass it on to their children, or even (God forbid!), be inspired to create their own works.

Modernists, beatniks, free-versers, and rappers be forewarned: the ghosts and melodies of great poets don't die easily!

Greek Lyre

The ancient Greeks used the lyre to accompany stories of romance, heroic adventures, and battles.

Modern version of the lyre

A modern-day version of the lyre (pronounced "liar").

"I did not have sex with that woman :-) "

Another modern-day version of the liar (also pronounced "liar" and also a pronounced liar).