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Piedra de sol

Piedra de sol

by Octavio Paz

Time

Symbol Analysis

Since we already know the poem's structure is based on an ancient calendar, it shouldn't be such a surprise that time is a key player here. Everything from Time, like the scary infinity that keeps you up at night or the plain old month of October, gets mentioned in "Piedra de sol." The images have a chronological order that sort of mimics the calendar, too.

  • Line 7: Spring is the first season mentioned in the poem, and is a time when things grow. Let's enjoy this calm, fertile moment before everything hits the fan.
  • Line 15: Here time is represented with the metaphor of the path—always heading into the future.
  • Lines 28-29: Time is personified here as having a body. This might explain why Time practically feels like a character here, popping up every few lines or so to do its thing.
  • Line 48: Noon rules like a king over the city-body, but is unaware of what is going on there. 
  • Line 74: Memory is a place where past summers rot. And there's the second season mentioned in the poem. 
  • Lines 87-88: Time is out of control here, and doesn't have any meaning. It just falls like Alice down the rabbit hole
  • Line 96: The sun is described using a specific time of day, and this specificity also means we are zeroing in on the forgotten moment the speaker has been searching for. 
  • Line 101: The season of autumn, the most important one in the play, finally comes out. It's related to the (tall) height of the forgotten girl in a simile.
  • Line 132: The snow in August shows an inversion of time (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). It's something unnatural, that shouldn't happen, like the violent death that comes next. 
  • Lines 152-154: Here time is represented as a horse, galloping away in a simile, and time takes on a violent shade with the adjective "bloodthirsty."
  • Lines 163-164: Time is personified as someone holding and closing a fan—as though time were collapsing on itself.
  • Lines 165-179: The forgotten moment that causes all the trouble in this poem goes through a series of similes. First it plunges into itself, closing itself off like a fist, like a fruit; and then grows within the speaker, representing his obsession. 
  • Line 181-184: Time is first compared to the sea in a metaphor, and then personified as it does not turn its head. 
  • Lines 245-246: These lines invoke the night and relate it to death, in contrast to the sunny references to life earlier.
  • Lines 248-250: Summertime is back. Remember those rotting summers from line 74? These summers are also in the past, and are hard for the speaker to remember. 
  • Line 254: This specific reference to the month of October brings us back into the autumn that the speaker tries to remember. What do you think it means that it's "always October"?
  • Line 276: Another specific reference, this time to a year, marks a concrete point in the poem, whereas before most of the time references have been very abstract. 
  • Line 285: The lovers defend their "ration" of time as though it were food, something necessary for life. 
  • Lines 290-296: Time is given a concrete, spatial quality in these lines. If the lovers can "leap over" it and therefore get rid of all temporal boundaries like days, they have escaped it. 
  • Lines 326-327: Every kiss, for the speaker, returns to the beginning of all time. 
  • Lines 378-381: Time is ground up by a mill into "copper coins and abstract shit" in this metaphor
  • Lines 471-472: Here the speaker doubts himself and changes his tune, saying that time cannot turn back, as though it were on a one-way street.

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