Lyrical poetry faded from the presses of America during the pop art revolutions of the 1960’s. Its last exponents were writers such as e. e. cummings, Richard Eberhart, Robert Frost, Edith Sitwell, Dylan Thomas and Jose Garcia Villa. Its manifold technical demands, mastered by these writers, were too forbidding for the restless generation that was replacing them.

Since then, virtually all poetry has been reduced to a rambling, decorative prose typed out in short lines to physically resemble a poem. Today’s media are preoccupied with this mutation. Lyrical poetry is profoundly different: words are selected primarily for their sound and secondarily for meaning. The mellifluous flow of syllables transcendentalizes the poems’ substance, just as music confers a sense of meaning simply out of pitches, harmonies and rhythms.

Charles Hathorn Wheeler was born in New York City in 1943. He studied with Jose Garcia Villa in the early 1970’s. “Orpheus’ Cross” is a 21
st century rebirth of the lyrical form and, by contrast, unmasks the facile, prosaic, imitation poems of today.