Who's afraid of the lyric mode? Romanticism's long tail and Adamson's ecopoetics

Willo Drummond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although ecocriticism has roots in Romanticism, much discourse around ecopoetry has come to hinge on a distancing from a ‘Romantic’, ‘ego-driven’ style of poetry, seen to be unethical. Such positions problematize lyric poetry, given its strong association with both Romanticism and the formal centrality of the self. This paper contends that lyric is often conflated with a reductive view of Romanticism and seeks to uncouple the form from such views. Looking to the work of Australian poet Robert Adamson, lyric is framed here as a performative mode rather than a genre, and is presented as an engaged type of ethical discourse which functions via reader answerability. Maintaining a Merleau-Pontean ontology as regards the lyric subject and the dynamic between word and world, and drawing upon Barthes’s use of the term ‘place’, the paper concludes that the lyric can function as a decidedly ethical ecopoetry, in which the place of lyric is also the place of the ecopoetic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number2 (special issue 41)
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • creative writing
  • ecopoetics
  • lyric poetry
  • Robert Adamson


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