Russian Letter Essay

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Kelly is an instructor of creative writing and literature. In this essay, he looks at how Yau uses dichotomies, or directly contrasting ideas, to help a short poem cover two philosophical positions.

John Yau’s “Russian Letter” is a short, focused poem that packs a lot of ideas into few words. Yau is able to create a thought-provoking piece with such spareness by opposing complex ideas. Rather than leaving out important information, though, Yau accomplishes this by trimming things down to basic opposites. By presenting ideas in dichotomies, he is able to invoke thoughts that represent whole systems of human thought. A nuanced portrait of the world might be required to examine objects on a one-by-one basis, but creating dichotomies allows the poet to categorize ideas into either of the two groupings mentioned. The opposing concepts are coupled: each one incorporates half the world...

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This section contains 2,291 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Russian Letter Study Guide
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