Lyric and Agapeics, and a poem by Yeats


Does such a trivial moment — don’t say it didn’t happen —- deserve even a metrical exercise?
This jaundiced question, so full of resentments and aesthetic prejudice you might think nihilism and bad taste are connected.
The question observes the contingencies of the between—-the asymmetric relativities of actual experience. It is not answered. But it reasserts, in the careful build of meter and rhyme, the enduring and often depressing limits of communication between others. But through lyric’s equivocity— which is not mere relativism —- the ‘intimate universal’ of a porosity between the divine nothing and created creatureliness is itself acknowledged.

To wit: lyric witnesses the between as it has conceptually evolved in Modernity as a response to Nihilism and reductivism. . For the between— and lyric—equivocity means not meaninglessness but saturated understanding beyond system. ’Myth’ in Vico’s sense.

The lyric embodies moments of ontological worth and in that sense, outside further definitions of discipline (Zen, apophatic Christian prayer, and so on), claims its central place in culture.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

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