Lyric Poetry and Epic
How was the first poem written and by whom? In Bible Genesis written that when God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. This is probably the text of the first poem. The above phrase is close to the best example of poetry either in form or in image shaping. Especially in rhythm and sound, it repeats the characteristics of modernist poetry. We can understand this from the perspective of modern stylistics. The main features of the above texts are mysterious and implicit lyricism. However, the first forefront poems are Homer's two epics, the Iliad and Odyssey. According to poetics, we call these two works epics. As a consequence, poetry at all times has two characteristics: lyricism and epic. Aristotle's "Poetics" is about epic and drama, while lyric poetry is not mentioned. We know that in the XVIII century lyric poetry was established as the third genre after epic and drama. In other words, as the starting point of poetry, lyric poetry is obscured by religion, history, and other literary genres (drama, prose). But he was not left in a desperate situation. With the passage of time, we realized that it gradually began to establish its strong uniqueness and unquestionable power.
The millennial-year history of Turkic and Persian Literature in Central Asia can be considered as a controversial unity of lyricism and epic. They could not overcome each other, they could not be separated from each other. The works of Phildoxy, Omar Hayam, Nizami, Rumi, Sagdi, Hafez, and Alisher Navoi are composed of lyric poems and epics alternately. The works of the great Kazakh poet Abai Qunanbayev are completely rooted in the above tradition, and constantly repeats the mode of lyric poetry and epic. Later, Muhtar Auezov brought out Kazakh literature to the height of the literary consciousness of the XX century with his novel-epic "The Road of Abai” and the best historical dramas. This is the traditional basis of contemporary Kazakh poetry.
After independence (1991), the Turkic-speaking countries in Central Asia began to reestablish the historical, cultural, and spiritual treasure that they had hidden in the dust during the colonial period. Kazakh Society was also considering how to revive the vitality of culture and art. This was also a turning point in the field of literary criticism. Kazakh poetry had to consider its own possibility according to the taste of contemporary world literature. There was a need to recognize the special nature of Western European literature in the XX century. In a new society, in a new social atmosphere with the differences of irreconcilability, poetry entered the circle of modern, contemporary language and the accompanying modernism.
Modernism and post modernism
«Tradition is a matter of much wider significance. It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labor. It involves, in the first place, the historical sense, which we may call nearly indispensable to anyone who would continue to be a poet beyond his twenty-fifth year; and the historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence; the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order. This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional. And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in time, of his own contemporaneity.»
T.S. Eliot. «Tradition And The Individual Talent»
The above text provides a new perspective with the reference value. First of all, T.S. Eliot deconstructed the traditional concepts of poetry, such as the juxtaposition of lyric poetry and epic poetry, and formed a completely different understanding of modernist poetry. He sought the possibility of returning the opportunity of religion, history, and other literary genres (drama and prose) to poetry. We can call this cognition the aesthetic intuition of modernist poetry. Modernist poetry originated in France and was national poetry before it spread to other European countries and became international poetry. Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot established a new theoretical basis of poetics and aesthetics for modernist poetry. In this regard, Pound’s “Imagism” and T. S. Eliot's “Tradition And The Individual Talent», «Ulysses, Order, and Myth” and other works can be mentioned. The aesthetic intuition of modernist poetry has stabilized the relationship between lyricism and epic. The poem "The Waste Land" by T. S. Eliot is a good example of this principle. As we all know, the first manuscript of this poem had more than 800 lines. Later, it was shortened by Pound, and it was shortened into 434 lines, giving it a new aesthetic characteristic. The most important thing was to change the language style of narrative epic in the first manuscript into lyrical expression mode. Then T. S. Eliot also received the new text. In other words, starting from the essence of the poem “Wasteland”, we find the aesthetic intuition and poetic characteristics of modernist poetry in Pound's and Eliot's understanding. It also opens the awakening period of language's own will. This poem contains information about religion, history, culture, anthropology, legend, mythology, and many national literary traditions. Such a rich text and text interaction are unprecedented in any previous literary works, especially in poetry. Modernist poetry consciously pursues suggestibility. The “Wasteland”, a collection of such a large number of works, conveys the European state of mind after the first World War (1914-1918) in a brand-new way, which is in sharp contrast with traditional poetry. We can confidently say that the “Wasteland” is a lyric poem with epic characteristics. It presented the main features of modernist poetry. It successfully returned to the meta poetic language. In this paper, the original essence of poetry - lyricism - contained narrative ability, and the function that had been taken away by other texts such as religion, history, or literary genre (drama, prose) were restored. This time, lyricism plays a positive leading role in the works, unlike the previous poetry in the dark or in addition. As a genre, poetry has its own characteristics. It perfectly expressed the cruelty and distortion of the struggle between beauty and ugliness of the human soul. This realm cannot be repeated in other texts. With the emergence of postmodernist poetry, this demand has not changed. Or it's getting stronger. Postmodern poetry is also trying to organize the intuition beyond reason in another form. Therefore, we are sure that the lyric poetry of the XX century transcends the epic and returns to its original position.
The advent of modernist intuition in poetry has bridged the gap between lyricism and the epic of the past, creating a new unity, despite the differences of irreconcilability. The intuition aesthetics and Poetics of modernism turn a new page in the history of poetry.
In the Kazakh poetry of the XX century, there are several works that give full priority to lyricism. One of them is Magzhan Zhumabayev's poem "Fair death, fair"(1919). Another one of them is Zhumiken Nazhimineov's poem "Kui Kitabi"(1968). Unfortunately, for historical political reasons, this trend in Kazakh poetry did not continue. Among the poets who came to poetry in the last thirty years, this difference is reflected in the poem by Amirkhan Balkybek "Reflection of refracted light."(1999) I have discussed these three works in my own Book Modern Kazakh poetry.
Several post-modernist Poems
In recent years, global postmodernism has begun to strongly influence the works of young poets. This is a new trend in the field of Kazakh literature. I have some reservations about this phenomenon. I think the key lies in how young poets understand postmodernism. As we all know, there are many relations between postmodernism and modernism. This connection should not be understood as merely a replacement or exclusion of the old. Behind the text of postmodernism is the particularity of postmodern society and the response of poetry to the Postmodern situation. This return should respond to the essence of modernist poetry, some hostile. In other words, postmodern poetry is the deconstruction of postmodern society, not the emergence of modernism. Modernism and postmodernism are not opposite, but interrelated. Due to social changes, poetry is constantly evolving and touching new problems. Poetic language itself has a special function, which injects strength into the core factor of civilization with its vitality and regeneration. Prevent the decline of language. Because poetry is the embodiment of human resurrection will. Language is more than a means of communication. From this point of view, I am concerned about the tendency of young poets to turn poetry into a tool and indulge in the politics, society, anti-culture, mass culture, and fanaticism of post-modern society. I understand the above phenomenon as the reproduction or plagiarism of postmodern social characteristics. In a sense, it is not poetry, but imitation and desire feedback of postmodernism. The above-mentioned routine of postmodernist poetry will weaken the creativity of poetic language and increase the weight of subordinate elements such as religion, history, politics, and literary genre (drama and prose). This is a thought-provoking question.
Representative works or open thinking
My works are mostly about my intuition, the influence of the outside world, the feedback from society and people. The personal (individual) character took the field. I didn't go to big realistic topics. I do not write an exaggerated realistic "I" as in Kazakh poetry. In 2003, I wrote the poem “A Garden of Trees: Meditations on the Postmodern Wars”. At that time, the United States was waging a war in Iraq. The information about the war is broadcast on TV every day. For the first time, we have seen the ruthless and devastating scenes of the post-modern war in the new era. War is right in front of us, thousands of people die every day, but the world cannot control it. Then, there was a war in neighboring Afghanistan. Kazakhstan was not long after independence and was in tense internal affairs. Although we freely accepted Western democracy, we were not sure what the future would be like. Through the poem "The Garden of Trees" I wanted to convey the feeling that I had at that time. It is written in the memory of poetry, including the terrible wars in the history of Central Asia (for example, the historical documents record that the Queen of Massagetae in Central Asia defeated the great ten emperors of Persian Emperor in the VI century BC, and cut down his head and put it in a blood-filled leather bag and said, "Do you love drinking human blood, then drink it.” Socrates continued the decline of ancient civilization for thousands of years, and the destruction and the helpless feeling of today. This poem has become the longest work I have ever written. Twelve chapters, 586 lines. The narrative language of poetry is obviously modernist. This kind of narrative language and metaphor have never appeared in Kazakh poetry before. Ten years later, I wrote an article about the poem, called "At the bottom of fruit tree" (2013). The article focuses on the situation of my writing garden, the obstacles encountered in the publishing process, and the creative feelings. Mainly through writing this article I summed up the "Forest Garden period", entered another new period of their own creation. In 2014, I published my long poem "Wind on the cliff". The poem is compact, not exaggerating, not impetuous, and conforms to the aesthetic and spiritual temperament I pursue after the garden. My works in recent years have been completed by the overlapping of the two different styles of the two poems, which has new characteristics. From this point of view, I have experienced several different nodes in the creation of poetry. But one of the characteristics has never changed: that is, I want to be as effective as possible in keeping in touch with the world around me. This is my contract with poetry. Thank you.
(«STYQ Online» Special online lecture. 29.03.2021)
Translated by Bayan Ardakh