Chapter

Universality

Robert Von Hallberg

in Lyric Powers

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780226865003
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226865027 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226865027.003.0007
Universality

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The consequence of attending to musicality as a source of lyric power is that one must then also confront the issue of universality, since poetry's musicality and its figures resist the particularizing reference of ordinary discourse. Although for two centuries poetic theory has stressed the particularizing power of poetic language, a wide range of poets have sought universality, or generality, or impersonality, or disinterestedness. This chapter argues that poetic language, regardless of whether it is written in an orphic or a civil mode, aspires to general truth. The value of generality is in a poem's capacity less to appropriate the subject position of others than to render indefinite subject positions, those not fully realized or not sustained by historical circumstances. The generality of poetic language derives from an intellectual aspiration to know more than one does, more even than one can, in particular. The chapter extends the analysis of musicality and also encompasses translation.

Keywords: poetry; musicality; lyric power; poetic language; truth; generality; universality; impersonality; disinterestedness

Chapter.  14210 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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