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Modernist ObjectsLiterature, Art, Culture$
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Noëlle Cuny and Xavier Kalck

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781949979503

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781949979503.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 02 August 2021

“Twang the lyre and rattle the lexicon”

“Twang the lyre and rattle the lexicon”

Harps and Lyres in Modernist Poetry

Chapter:
(p.131) Chapter Seven “Twang the lyre and rattle the lexicon”
Source:
Modernist Objects
Author(s):

Jennifer Kilgore-Caradec

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781949979503.003.0008

This chapter offers a general survey of how harps and lyres were used as poetic instruments as well as how they were referenced in modernist poetry. Harps and lyres were foundational to poetic composition in the laments and praise songs King David played with a harp resembling a begena, just as poets of the Ur dynasty had done before him. The oral tradition of accompanying poems with music from a harp or lyre ranged widely geographically from the China of Confucius to the skolias or banquet songs of ancient Greece. Harps and lyres continued to be in common use by Europe’s medieval troubadours. The very objects, harps and lyres have come to signify poetic tradition itself. As such, both words have been significantly used in the long tradition of English language poetry, and they have also been involved in war and war poetry. This chapter provides poetic examples showing the presence of harps and lyres in modernist poems, including the masculine and feminine modernisms of Britain and the United States (Yeats, Eliot, Pound, Sitwell, H.D., Moore, Millay, Auden and MacNeice) as well as African American modernisms.

Keywords:   Harps, lyres, music, lyric poetry, modernist poetry, war poetry

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