This introductory chapter argues that lyric poetry can create lyric orientations—the commitments and relations to the world that emerge aesthetically and tentatively out of language. For instance, lyric poetry can make political communities, recast human relations to death, or unite the sensual as well as intellectual components of human subjectivity. The book focuses on the works of Friedrich Hölderlin and Rainer Maria Rilke, who were among the relatively few poets who wrote against dominant discourses that addressed finitude (uncertainty in afterlife, consciousness, etc.). Hölderlin wrote between German idealism and romanticism, while Rilke examined the problems that had been raised by empiricism, aestheticism, and modernism.
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