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Paradoxes and Oxymorons Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 26 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Paradoxes and Oxymorons.
This section contains 541 words
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Themes

Language and Meaning

"Paradoxes and Oxymorons" questions the idea that language is an effective tool for communicating ideas about the physical, empirically verifiable world. The poem suggests that poetry, and by extension all language, is ultimately about itself and its inability to say anything definitive about the world. The first stanza underscores this idea, as the poem eludes the understanding of the reader: "You miss it, it misses you. You miss each other." These words also echo the way that lovers frequently misunderstand one another, showing how language is often at a distance from things. By making the poem into a lover of sorts, a lover who can never be fully understood or possessed by the reader, Ashbery shows how language also makes promises, promises that often go unfilled. The self-questioning in the second stanza dramatizes the notion that even the speaker is not in control of what he...

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This section contains 541 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Paradoxes and Oxymorons Study Guide
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Paradoxes and Oxymorons from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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