Ends of the Lyric: Direction and Consequence in Western Poetry
"Poems end. They begin, and they end. In between beginnings and ends are the middles--the means--of getting from the one to the other. How poems get to their ends--the directions they take, and give, and the consequences of following them--is the topic of this study."--from the Introduction
Lyric poems, argues Timothy Bahti, do not simply end in the sense of arriving at the end of a story or the conclusion of an argument. Instead, these endings return their own structures and statements (as well as the readers' engagements with the poems' meanings) back to the beginnings and middles of the poems. Thus, Bahti contends, lyric poetry does not end, but re-begins and continues anew toward its ends. Studying poetry from five Western languages, from antiquity through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Ends of the Lyric combines advanced methods in literary interpretation with a focus on lyric poetry's surprisingly recurrent motifs, devices, and figures of language.
"It is not only that Bahti has a range of knowledge of extraordinary depth, not only that he analyzes with exceptional precision and brings us to important theoretical insights about the lyric and about reading and language in general, not only that he knows the secondary works thoroughly and is able to read others' reading in a disciplined and productive manner. He also manages to write beautifully."--Carol Jacobs, State University of New York at Buffalo