Study Guide

Proem Language and Communication

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Language and Communication

the descent of parachuting words onto the sands of the page; (4)

How would this line be different if it were about words as fighter pilots instead of parachutists?

the beheading of epithets, the burial of mirrors; (8)

The violence of beheading and burial in this line shows just how cleanly poetry cuts off (rim shot, please!) language from what it is talking about. The use of symbols and metaphors is not direct language, but rather an indirect version that illustrates rather than replicates reality.

the recollection of pronouns freshly cut in the garden of Epicurus, and the garden of Netzahualcoyotl; (9)

There's that cutting again! Just like the epithets got their heads cut off in line 8, here the pronouns are being lopped off like blooms in a garden. Figurative, or poetic, language is separate—cut off—from reality.

the migrations of millions of verbs, wings and claws, seeds and hands;
the nouns, bony and full of roots, planted on the waves of language; (11-12)

Like the Sea Monkey, words will come to life if you just add water!

Syllables seeds. (14)

Syllables in and of themselves are (usually) not communicative. But they are the basic building blocks of language, which allow poets to be creative with it.

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