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Paradoxes and Oxymorons Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 19 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Paradoxes and Oxymorons.
This section contains 841 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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Paradoxes and oxymorons are rhetorical figures, and by naming the poem after them Ashbery is setting up readers' expectations to look for these figures. The first line is ironic, whether intentionally or not is unimportant. Any poem with the title "Paradoxes and Oxymorons" cannot be "concerned with language on a very plain level," as these figures of speech are themselves often difficult to understand. Ashbery's poems frequently contain a high degree of self-reflexivity, and this poem is no different. A poem is self-reflexive when it is its own subject, when it describes and explains itself. The speaker, who is one with the poem, directs readers to witness the poem talking to them and "scripts" the reader's response: "You look out a window / Or pretend to fidget." The image of "fidgeting" speaks to the intense self-consciousness of the speaker and of human beings in general, especially those in romantic relationships. It...

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This section contains 841 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Paradoxes and Oxymorons Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Paradoxes and Oxymorons from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.