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Q: Paradoxical Poems ( No Answer,   5 Comments )
Subject: Paradoxical Poems
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: topless_bard-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 21 Sep 2006 18:17 PDT
Expires: 21 Oct 2006 18:17 PDT
Question ID: 767461

I'm looking for poets or poems that specifically deal with paradox
within language. The best example of this I can give is Wislawa
Szymborska's poem The Three Oddest Words.

The Three Oddest Words

When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.

When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.

When I pronounce the word Nothing,
I make something no non-being can hold.

Other possible themes include strange loops/recursive structures
within poems, eloquently written paradoxes, impossibilities or poems
that deal with oddities in language.

Can you locate any poems that deal with these themes and send me the
links, or else suggest poets/poems that I could investigate?


Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 21 Sep 2006 19:12 PDT
I don't have my copy of Goedel, Escher, Bach handy, but that book has
lots of examples from all walks of life -- math, art, music, as
reflected in the title, but lots of literary material as well.

Worth thumbing through -- I bet you'll find a lot of things of interest.


Clarification of Question by topless_bard-ga on 24 Sep 2006 05:07 PDT
Thanks people,
The ideas in Goedel, Escher, Bach are very much in the direction that
I'm looking in, but they tend to be framed in mathematical rather than
literary terms. They ideas are also often intended to give the reader
a direct understanding of a concept, rather than an allusion to or
parable of the ideas. I'm looking for these poems to set to music as
part of a song cycle, so they have to all run along a similar theme.
Paradoxes, oppositions in language or our understanding of what is
logical and rational are they types of things I'm looking for, and
especially expressed in a succinct, clear and eloquent manner. I know
this is very specific, but I'm quite open to anything that is in this
direction, so be creative!

Clarification of Question by topless_bard-ga on 24 Sep 2006 05:09 PDT
Another example of a suitable text is Emily Dickenson's poem:

COULD mortal lip divine	
  The undeveloped freight	
Of a delivered syllable,	
  ?T would crumble with the weight.

...just to give you a bit more to go on!
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Paradoxical Poems
From: pinkfreud-ga on 21 Sep 2006 18:30 PDT
You might find the poetry of T.S. Eliot to be pleasing. Eliot uses a
lot of recursion and wordplay.
Subject: Re: Paradoxical Poems
From: thursdaylast23-ga on 21 Sep 2006 22:01 PDT
Going back a few centuries:

"The Paradox," by John Donne
Subject: Re: Paradoxical Poems
From: thursdaylast23-ga on 25 Sep 2006 06:27 PDT
You might want to look at John Ashberry, sometimes categorized by
critics as one of the "language poets." Here's a sample:

"Paradoxes and Oxymorons" (circa 1979)

And an excerpt from a poem by Peter Sacks, poet and professor at Harvard:

Night swims, the swimmer
passes between stars that drop
below the surface

of the words for nightfall,
and the words swim.
Darkening they glide.

"Only the Swimmer," by Peter Sacks. From the book, Natal Command
Subject: Re: Paradoxical Poems
From: praisedancer-ga on 09 Oct 2006 14:23 PDT
I'm sorry to post on this question, although I find it very
interesting, but I had not other way of leaving a comment for
thursdaylast23-ga.  They helped me immensely with a little know
Christian love song I was looking for back in May and although I just
read the comment last night I am sure that information is accurate. 
Thank you sooo much.
Sorry to intrude :-(
Subject: Re: Paradoxical Poems
From: webrider-ga on 17 Oct 2006 20:47 PDT
I hope this can help you.

Sorry if this is not what you are looking for, but english is not my
languaje and is so dificult to me understand english poetry.

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