An Analysis of the Poetry of Octavio Paz

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Octavio Paz became the first Mexican writer to win the Nobel Prize in 1990. Richard Rodriguez, essayist, author, and editor of the Pacific News Service, describes Paz as " the voice (and) soul of Mexico." The dichotomy of Mexican identity, that of the indigenous people combined with Spanish colonization, is a dualistic theme Paz often returns to in his poetry, be it in cultural differences, gender polarities, or the contrast between individual perception and the nature of reality…

Introduction

His subtlety in approach and distinction between thoughts of similar theme can be most easily discerned through comparison of similar poems, which this paper shall attempt by examining the poems "A Tree Within," "Before the Beginning," and " A Song Out of Tune."
In Paz's poem "A Tree Within," the poet creates a metaphysical metaphor of an inverted tree growing within his body to illustrate the path of desire inspired by the presence of an outsider's influence. The inversion of the tree is established within the first line which, despite the slight contradiction of the third line's claim that "Its roots are veins", establishes that the tree is growing upside down. The branches stretch out into the nerves of the body's extremities and, while the fifth line states that "thoughts (are) its tangled foliage" (presumably because of the parallel imagery of human hair), the tree's growth implies a rather different nest of hair and a distinctly more lustful direction of growth. The inversion of the tree resonates with the classic illustration of Satan in Dante's Divine Comedy: the poet likewise seems to be describing an escalating hellish torture of excitement. ...
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