by Octavio Paz
Analysis: What's Up With the Title?
Prose + Poem = "Proem." Get it? Got it? Good. But hold up there. That's not the end of the story. Is this "proem" really a prose poem? It isn't written in verse, but it does have the line breaks, rhythm, and structure of a regular old poem. So what is this all about?
Well, yes, a "proem" can be a prose poem, but it more often means a preface or introduction to a literary text. This poem was the first one in Paz's book A Tree Within, and makes a really nice opening poem since it's all about the magical things poetry is. As an introduction, then, it really sets the stage for a reader to approach the wild language that awaits, and is a good way to get ready for a whole bookful of poems!