Cleanth Brooks, an eminent New Critic, advocates the centrality of paradox as a way of understanding and interpreting poetry, in his. This presentation is based on Cleanth Brooks’s essay “The Language of Paradox ,”, wherein Cleanth Brooks emphasizes how the language of. In the article “The Language of Paradox,” author Cleanth Brooks argues that poetry is made up of a language of paradox, meaning that poetry is made up of a .

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It changes the tone of the poem from ironic pparadox to that of a defiant and controlled tenderness. All the generalizations are made out of a close analysis of lyric poetry.

Irony is the key to validating the poem because a test of any statement grows from the context — validating a statement demands examining the statement in the context of the poem and determining whether it is appropriate to that context. Paradox in poetry means clexnth tension at the surface of a verse can lead to apparent contradictions and hypocrisies.

Although paradox and irony as New Critical tools for reading poetry are often conflated, they are independent poetical devices. The method is only an extension of the normal language of poetry, not a pervasion of it.

Coleridge in his classic description of its nature and power employs a series of paradoxes: In poets like Blake and Coleridge, they merge with variations in emphasis.

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free The holy time is quiet as a Nun Breathless with adoration…. In expressing his awed surprise that the city should be able to wear the beauty of the morning at all, the poem creates points of almost shocked expression: Statements such as Wilde’s “I can resist anything except temptation” and Chesterton’s “spies do not look like spies” [2] are examples of rhetorical paradox.


Using a charged religious term to describe the speaker’s physical love as saintly, Donne effectively argues that in rejecting the material world and withdrawing to a world of each other, the two lovers are appropriate candidates for canonization.

I mean that the poet does not use a notation at all–as a scientist may properly be said to do so. He held many academic positions and received many distinguished fellowships and honorary doctorates. An Anthology2nd Ed. In Brooks’s use of the paradox as a tool for analysis, however, he develops a logical case as a literary technique with strong emotional effect.

Paradox is his only solution. Log In Sign Up. Their Roots, Range, and Resolution. The implication is that the poet himself recognizes the absurdity of these love metaphors.

Paradox (literature) – Wikipedia

Even the most direct and simple poet has to resort to discrepancies, contradictions and paradoxes. The paradox, discovered by the poem’s end, is that the girl is more full of worship than the speaker precisely because she is always consumed with sympathy for nature and not — as is the speaker — in tune with nature while immersed in it. The bartender gives it to her. In short, it would make literature an isolated phenomenon.

Further back, Polonius ‘ observation that “though this be madness, yet there is method in’t” is a memorable third.

The tone of irritation that is seen at the opening of parzdox poem becomes something very different. Retrieved from ” http: The dominant metaphor of the holy anchorite who by giving up this world achieves a better world broosk true here.

This is resolved only when the unworldly lovers having given up the world, paradoxically achieve a more intense world. The argument for the centrality of paradox and irony becomes a reductio ad absurdum and is therefore void or at least ineffective for literary analysis. The poem opens dramatically.


The poet, then, is not limited to the denotations of words, but, instead, revel in the possible connotations of words. Formal elements such as rhyme, meter, setting, characterization, and plot were used to identify the theme of the text. Reveals itself in the balance or reconcilement of opposite or discordant qualities: Skip to main content.

Paradox (literature)

Since London was created by man, and man is a part of nature, London is thus too a part of nature. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. Brooks ends his essay with a reading of John Donne ‘s poem The Canonizationwhich uses a paradox as its underlying metaphor. In this passage, Brooks stresses that poetic language is inherently different from scientific language because the poet constructs his language as he goes and defines his own rules. Brooks simply believed that, “‘Imagination’ reveals itself in the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities.

This makes it a permissible feature of an epigram or a satire, sub- varieties of poetry, but not of poetry itself. These articles exemplify the tenets of New Criticism: The importance of the role of the second and third stanzas of the poem is that the poet changes the tone of the poem in them.

The most significant of these reasons trace an outline of the movement. It functions as a method of literary composition and analysis that involves examining apparently contradictory statements and drawing conclusions either to reconcile them or to explain their presence. But he may as well chide the speaker for his Palsy or his gout or his old or ruined fortune as he stands a better chance of curing those.