Study Guide

Epitaph for an Old Woman Calling Card

By Octavio Paz

Calling Card

Simple Surrealism

Paz writes with simple, accessible language. Though his imagery relies heavily on imagery from the natural world, he also accesses the dreamlike world of the surreal. (Surrealism, in a nutshell, uses the images and logic of dreams to explore hidden, or deep-seeded, meanings.)

In "Epitaph for an Old Woman," we see this happening when the very sparse description of this old woman's burial becomes a mystical account of her dead husband receiving her. It then jumps to a larger statement about life and death.

This combination of the simple or earthly and the surreal makes reading Paz feel like taking a nature walk in a magical and invigorating version of the world. And the good news? This poem is not the only work of Paz's to do so! The simple, yet profound and dream-like, style found here is a hallmark of his work in general.

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