Discussions of lyric tend to bifurcate into, on the one hand, theoretical reflection, in which lyric is defined as a self-referring language artifact,and on the other hand, historical reference, which tends to ignore formal considerations. This article argues against such an opposition between theory and history and argues for a lyric theory that sees poetic language as representing historical experience within the very formal elements and self-consciousness of language that are lyric poetry's distinctive features. Paul Celan offers a paradigmatic illustration of such synthesis.

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