The words “lyrical” and/or “lyricism” get tossed around as much as the word “eclectic”. Merriam-Webster online defines “lyrical”—and by extension “lyricism”—as “having an artistically beautiful or expressive quality”. In the bigger hardbound Webster we find this: “having the form and musical quality of a song, and especially the character of a songlike outpouring of the poet’s own thoughts or feelings”. For me lyricism exists in poetry and literature and language, as well as in the plastic arts such as painting and sculpture. Coltrane’s soprano playing on the Atlantic recording of “My Favorite Things” is supremely lyrical. Rothko’s mysterious panels are lyrical. So are songs on two elegant new albums by pianist Donald Vega and jazz harpist Carol Robbins: “River” from the former’s new cd Spiritual Nature and Robin’s exquisite version of “Every Time We Say Goodbye” from her new album Moraga. W.H. Auden’s poetry is lyrical. Some people’s voices and the way they talk or express themselves can be lyrical too. Dylan Thomas reading Under Milk Wood. Shakespeare lambent works are paradigms of lyricism.
So is this gentle but moving poem, written anonymously, after the 9/11 attacks:
I give you this one thought to keep,
I am with you still, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glint upon the snow.
I am as sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone,
I am with you still in each new dawn.
I find Shona sculpture from Zimbabwe lyrical as well. A Ferrari 599 Fiorano with styling by the late Sergio Pinin-Farina is lyrical. Lyricism for me means how words or notes fit together, their flow and movement, the symmetry of the various components, whether they be words, phrases, notes or musical phrases; sculpture can mean Brancusi, a new Imac computer, a racehorse, a cat in repose, an
Olympic gymnast, swimmer, or sprinter, a Ferrari, or African sculpture. Lyricism in its many forms offers the beholder beauty to offset the ugliness of what we see around ourselves every day.
Every Time We Say Goodbye featuring Darek Oles