What exactly is the lyrical subject/object in poetry?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A lyrical poem is primarily about emotions the poet has experienced. They try to recapture these feelings in verse.

Almost always, these emotions are connected to some event, place, or experience in the poet's life that gives them substance. It could be something traumatic, like the death of a parent, that evokes the intense emotion, as in Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gently into that Good Night," a poem in which he implores his father to fight fiercely for his life. The emotion could also be caused by loss of a child, as in Ben Jonson's "On my First Son," in which he mourns the loss of his beloved young son, who meant more to him than any poem he could write. It could also be as simple as the intense emotions experienced when gazing at a vase, which Keats records in "Ode on a Grecian Urn," or from wishing a butterfly would stay in his garden, as Wordsworth does in his poem "To a Butterfly."

Whatever the case, the lyric poet conveys to an audience the deep feelings he has experienced. In the best lyric poetry, we as an audience connect strongly and passionately with these feelings and the language in which they are expressed.

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stolperia eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Poems are usually written as a way to express the feelings of the author. The person or place or event that has created those feelings is the subject or object of the poem. There isn't one uniform subject or object (different names for the same thing) in all poetry - it will be different for each poem.

Lyric poetry is "a form of poetry with rhyming schemes that express personal and emotional feelings." Words don't have to rhyme for a piece to be considered a lyric poem, although they can. The more important issue is the expression of feelings. Consider:

I THINK that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree. A tree whose hungry mouth is prest Against the sweet earth's flowing breast; A tree that looks at God all day, 5 And lifts her leafy arms to pray; A tree that may in summer wear A nest of robins in her hair; Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain. 10 Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.


Joyce Kilmer is observing the beauty she sees in trees, admiring the strength of the trunk growing from the ground, appreciating the sight and sound of the robins nesting amidst the leaves, recognizing the way the tree changes with the changing seasons. The lyric subject or object of this particular poem is trees.

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