Pearson Adult Learning Centre Home
Pearson Adult Learning Centre
  Brad's Teacher Writing: Poetry Analysis Paragraph Sample


The Power of the Breath

         Wislawa Szymborska’s, “The Three Oddest Words,” is a personal favourite of mine, a poem of simplicity and power. Her repeated, “When I pronounce the word,” emphasizes the breath of the speaker and strongly accents her line-ending words, “Future,” “Silence” and “Nothing.” The poem speaks of “the first syllable” that “already belongs to the past,” something so obviously true that it delights the reader. Szymborska’s paradoxes, above all, teach us that there are truths we rarely think about: that the “Future” has arrived even as we speak a word; that our voice destroys “Silence.” She challenges us even more in the third stanza. The most important of the “Oddest Words,” is “Nothing.” She contrasts this “Nothing” with a powerful verb, “make,” then leaves you wondering, ending on “something no non-being can hold.” Reading the poem for the first time, after finding the first two stanzas delightfully amusing, the reader is engaged by a final puzzle. “When I pronounce the word,” is the opposite of non-being, and so the breath we speak is life itself. Her theme reminds us that it is the speaking voice that defines humanity and that voice is what makes humans different and is all we have between us and “Silence” and “Nothing.” Szymborska's simple, powerful words captivate me, always.


—Sixth draft of a long paragraph (210 words). The paragraph is nearly half a 500-word essay’s worth of analysis. Because the poem is short, I refer to some phrases repeatedly, but to make different points. The sound element, “repetition,” is the first poetic term discussed. Then “paradox,” which is “a statement, proposition, or situation that seems to be absurd or contradictory, but in fact is or may be true.” (Encarta) I end with theme, or at least how I see the theme. What do you think?




Visit our Contact Us page to send email to the centre.
Copyright © 1997 to 2009 Pearson Adult Learning Centre, New Westminster School District 40
Web Site Created by The Educated Web
Last modified: July 31, 2009