Lyric is non-narrative, short poem that reveals the speaker’s personal feeling, emotion, mode, state of mind, expression, thought, attitude, perception etc. in a first person narrative. Lyric poetry does not tell any story, unlike Epic and Ballad; rather it is very personal and solely focused on the speaker’s personal feeling and ideas. Lyric poetry does not address wider public. The speaker in a Lyric poem always uses first person. For example, I, My love etc. So, in Lyric poetry, the speaker directly addresses the readers, invoking his own personal feeling and expressions.
The word ‘Lyric’ comes from the Greek word ‘Lyre’, a stringed musical instrument. Initially, Lyric poem was meant to be sung and poets were used to singing Lyric in a Lyre. Originally, Lyric poet tends to be musical and suits to music very well and musicality is one of the characteristics of Lyric. However, over the time, the meaning of Lyric has been changed and it does no longer mean music. Rather, Lyric poetry is now largely meant for reading.
Sappho is an ancient Greek lyric poet of 6th century B.C. However, only a few of his literary works have so far been retrieved, while much of her other works were destroyed over the years. Still, Sappho is considered to be one of the great Greek poets in world literature. Sappho’s poems are very intimate in meaning. Lyric poetry is generally very intimate in nature. Initially, love was the most popular theme of Lyric poetry. However, other intimate personal feelings gradually came into existence as the theme of Lyric poetry.
Explanation of the speaker’s intense emotion, thought and feeling is the main purpose of Lyric poetry. That is why, some critics say that ‘you do not hear Lyric poem; rather, you overhear Lyric poem’. Among the different kinds of Lyric poetry, 14-line Sonnet is most popular. Some other forms of Lyric poetry are Ode, Elegy etc. For the last 500 years, Lyric has been the most popular form of poetry in the world.