Many lyric poets register absence and loss in their work, to the extent that the sense of the ineffable conveyed by lyric poems may frequently result from an attempt to conjure an image of what is irrevocably gone. Bruce Fink contends, ‘Absence cannot even be understood as some thing until it is named’ (2004: 139) and, for lyric poets, that act of naming is usually the poem itself—which, in trying and failing to close the gap between reality and language, suggests the inherent poignancy of so much lyric utterance. Many poems that appear to be about presence are really reconstituting a sense of absence, formulating the lost in an unparaphrasable linguistic construction. The meanings of such poems are never fully available or explicable, caught as they are between a new image of what is gone and the unlocatable nature of what that image stands in for.
The lyric poem’s reconstruction of loss