Lyrical motif characteristics examples Difference with temperament

Lyrical motif

The lyrical motif includes the situations, ideas or emotions that awaken the sensitivity of the poet, and around which the poem is built. They are the significant human experiences expressed in the poem. These  significant experiences, which can become a lyrical motif, are extremely varied and extensive in nature.

For example, they can be the love of a mother for her children, the feeling of loneliness, the remembrance of the years of youth, the anguish of being away from home, the pain due to the absence of a loved one, among others. In general, the lyrical motif is one of the aspects on which the lyrical genre is based .

The latter’s main purpose is to convey the feelings or sensations of an author regarding a person or object. Usually, the expression lyrical genre is the poem. In turn, this is usually expressed in verse , although there are also prose poems (lyrical prose). In both cases a lyrical motif is always present.

Characteristics of the lyrical motif What is lyrical motif

Idea, situation or feeling

The lyrical motif is an idea, situation or a feeling that inspires the poem and that is reflected in it. For the lyrical speaker, this object (or subject or event) is loaded with personal meanings.

The subjectivity of the author is expressed

Through this —as is characteristic of the genre— the poet’s subjectivity is expressed. To describe it, abstract nouns are usually used such as sadness, longing, enjoyment, happiness, among others.

Inner drive

On the other hand, a lyrical motif differs from a narrative motif. In narration, a certain situation (or motive) precipitates events. For its part, in poetry it is an inner impulse that triggers the work.

Thus, a lyrical motif is understood as meaningful situations that are not necessarily centered on the development of an action, but are transformed into experiences for the soul.



In the following poem by Miguel Hernández, entitled ” A carnivorous knife” , it can be seen that the lyrical motif is death.

Through the use of metaphors (including the one that compares death with a knife “with a sweet and homicidal wing”), the author alludes to the ever-present threat of the end of life.

“A carnivorous knife with a sweet and murderous wing sustains a flight and a glow around my life. Lightning of twisted metal, glaringly fallen, pecks at my side and makes a sad nest in it. My temple, the flowery balcony of my early ages, is black, and my heart, and my heart with gray hair. Such is the evil virtue of the lightning that surrounds me, that I go to my youth like the moon to my village. I collect with my eyelashes salt of the soul and salt of the eye and cobweb flowers of my sadness I collect. Where can I go that my doom does not seek? Your destination is the beach and my vocation of the sea. Resting from this work of hurricane , love or hell is not possible, and the pain will do me eternal regret. But at last I will be able to defeat you, bird and secular ray, heart, that of death no one has to make me doubt. So keep going, knife, flying, wounding. Someday the weather will turn yellow on my photograph

Hypocrisy What is lyrical motif

Next, the poem by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz has as its lyrical motive the hypocrisy of men with respect to the behavior of women.

“Foolish men who accuse women without reason, without seeing that you are the occasion of the same thing that you blame: if with unequaled eagerness you request their disdain, why do you want them to do good if you incite them to evil? You fight their resistance, and then gravely say that it was lightness that the diligence did. You want with foolish presumption to find the one you are looking for, Tais, and in possession, Lucrecia. What humor can be weirder than the one that lacks advice, blurs the mirror himself, and feels that it is unclear? With favor and disdain you have equal status, complaining, if they treat you badly, mocking, if they love you well. Opinion does not win, because the one that is most modest, if it does not admit you, it is ungrateful and if it admits you, it is light. You are always so foolish that with unequal levels you blame one for cruel and another for easy blame. Well, how should the one that your love intends be tempered , if the one that is ungrateful offends and the one that is easy angers? … ” What is lyrical motif

The game of life

The poem ” Chess”  by Jorge Luis Borges seems to have as a lyrical motif the constant struggles that must be faced throughout life. In addition, it alludes to the hand of a player (God) who “governs his destiny.”

“In his grave corner, the players rule the slow pieces. The board delays them until dawn in its severe realm where two colors are hated. Inside the forms radiate magical rigors : Homeric rook, light knight, queen army, last king, oblique bishop and aggressor pawns. When the players are gone, when time has consumed them, the rite will certainly not have ceased. In the East this war was ignited whose amphitheater is today the whole Earth. Like the other, this game is infinite. Tender king, bishop bias, fierce queen, direct rook and sly pawn on the black and white of the road they seek and wage their armed battle. They do not know that the player’s appointed hand governs their destiny, they do not know that an adamantine rigor holds their agency and their journey. The player is also a prisoner (the sentence belongs to Omar) on another board of black nights and white days. God moves the player, and the player the piece. What God behind God does the plot begin from dust and time and dream and agony? “

Differences between lyrical motif and temperament

Both, temper of mind and lyrical motif, are part of the structure of the lyrical genre. The first is the mood of the lyrical speaker, while the second is what generates that state of mind.

Also, another important difference between these two terms is that a mood can change throughout a poem. Instead, the lyrical motif is usually the same throughout the work.

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